By Barry Janoff
March 31, 2016: In an effort to broaden its presence in college hoops, Under Armour has signed its first deal with Madison Square Garden, under which the sports footwear, gear and equipment company becomes the official partner of college basketball at the New York City venue.
The alliance, which will give Under Armour a presence at The Garden during regular-season college games beginning this fall, will be anchored by "Reunion," an in-season competition, scheduled to premiere Dec. 12, that is intended to become an annual event.
As part of the Madison Square Garden partnership, Under Armour hoops merchandise will be available on-site during Reunion events. Under Armour also is expected to support with other marketing, including print, in-arena and local signage, Internet and social media.
“Coming together with Madison Square Garden for the first time as an official partner of college basketball gives us such pride as we continue to elevate our brand presence in the sport,” Nick Carparelli, senior director, college sports for Under Armour, said in a statement.
According to Ron Skotarczak, evp-marketing partnerships for The Madison Square Garden Co., “Under Armour is a leader and innovator in global footwear, apparel and equipment and a great addition to Madison Square Garden’s roster of world-class partners."
Reunion will feature a double-header with four college hoops teams that are part of Under Amour's partnership roster: South Carolina vs. Seton Hall and Auburn vs. Boston College.
The event's title gets its inspiration from the fact that the teams have a history with their opponent and/or with "The World's Most Famous Arena," which also is home to the NBA's Knicks, WNBA Liberty and NHL Rangers.
As such, Under Armour said the slogan of the double-header would be "Fight Like Family."
Bruce Pearl, Auburn's head coach, began his coaching career at his alma mater, Boston College, as a student assistant coach to Dr. Tom Davis.
Boston College last played in The Garden in the 2013 2K Classic.
South Carolina has played several games in Madison Square Garden, but this would be the first since winning the 2006 NIT championship there.
South Carolina faced Seton Hall once before, a 75-74 victory on Jan. 26, 1974, played in Madison Square Garden, per the team.
Seton Hall, the de facto home team by virtue of his location in South Orange, NJ, has played in The Garden numerous times as part of the Big East Conference.
"There are a handful of buildings that you walk into around the country and you stop and you have to say to yourself, am I really coaching on the floor where Red Holzman of the Knicks and Red Auerbach with the Celtics led those great teams?" Pearl said in a statement.
“Coming together with The Garden as an official partner of college basketball gives us such pride as we continue to elevate our brand presence in the sport."
"To coach there, having been there with BC in the early days of Big East, and what Madison Square Garden meant to the Big East Conference where it went from ECAC to the Big East is special," said Pearl.
According to Skotarczak, "Throughout its history, 'The World's Most Famous Arena' has been host to many of the all-time great college basketball games, earning its 'Mecca of Basketball' moniker with elite programs squaring off in front of sold-out crowds; and with the help of Under Armour and the Reunion double-header, that tradition will continue.”
Baltimore-based Under Armour made news in New York in March by signing to become the kit supplier for the NASL's New York Cosmos, the first such deal for the company in North America.
Other college hoops teams on Under Armour's roster include Wisconsin, Notre Dame, the Naval Academy Athletic Assn., Maryland, Northwestern, Cincinnati and Utah.
“We're thrilled to be part of delivering all of the upcoming collegiate basketball action at The Garden, and look forward to building a long-standing showcase platform with the Reunion’for the players, teams and fans alike," said Carparelli.
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