SBD/April 11, 2011/Colleges

Under Armour's Kevin Plank Helps Maryland Keep Pace With College Rivals

Plank allowed Maryland officials to use his plane during recruiting trip last year
Under Armour Chair, President & CEO Kevin Plank helps the Univ. of Maryland "keep pace in the ever-escalating athletic arms race," according to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore SUN. Under Armour documents reveal that Plank, his foundation and his Baltimore-based company "have collectively donated more than $1.4 million" since '07 to the athletics department at his alma mater. Last year, as UM officials "raced to interview football coaching candidates, Plank paid for $31,735 in charter flights," just three months after he supplied a plane for a men's basketball recruiting trip. The "high-energy Plank, who keeps an arduous travel schedule, did not accompany Maryland officials on the coaching-search trips," but he "was a financial player." Plank said, "Maryland doesn't have the resources of planes that many others we compete against do. There's no conspiracy here. I have a plane. It's not being used." Barker noted Plank has a "dual relationship" with his alma mater. In addition to serving on UM's Board of Trustees, Plank in '08 "announced a five-year, $17.5 million agreement for Under Armour to become the official outfitter of all 27 sports teams." He said, "I keep a very clear delineation between what I'm allowed to do as (an alumnus) and what I'm allowed to do as CEO of Under Armour." While Plank has "increasingly become Maryland's go-to guy, most of his gifts have come with little public attention." In an era "when the term 'booster' can carry unwanted connotations of unchecked activities and egos, Plank seems wary that his donations could be misconstrued." He said, "I don't like being the centerpiece or a portion of the story. I don't want to be characterized as the big booster guy" (Baltimore SUN, 4/10).
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