As the founder of Under Armour, Kevin Plank ’96 has followed a simple philosophy: Bet on Maryland. It’s a message that he abides by in both business and life, and it’s one that he shared with Maryland Smith’s graduating class during the 2021 virtual commencement ceremony.
Speaking in a video aired during the May 20 event, Plank noted how the saying has guided him in his career and how it has come to shape the culture of his multibillion-dollar apparel company. To him, “Betting on Maryland” is about remembering his roots and embracing his network and skill sets, but it also means so much more.
“This school is my home team and it's Under Armour's home team,” said Plank. “That, in a simple sense, is where the phrase came from, but it also has a bigger meaning. It means betting on yourself, rooting for what you have because, in the end, that's all you've got.”
During the online commencement, Plank addressed 813 undergraduate students, 166 business master’s graduates, 122 MBA graduates, 38 Executive MBA graduates and 13 doctoral graduates from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
In his remarks, he offered a glimpse into the founding of his company, from the days of testing the brand’s first products in College Park and making his first sales to his classmates, professors and football teammates.
Plank highlighted the intersection between the sports and business worlds, drawing inspiration from notable Under Armour athletes Stephen Curry, Tom Brady and Lindsey Vonn, all of whom have defied odds and become prolific figures within their respective sports.
Those athletes, Plank said, never stopped betting on themselves, and neither did Under Armour, even during its early years. That relentless resilience is instilled in every Terp, he said, a “superpower that’s earned by walking off stage with that degree.”
“Bet on yourself and be relentless with your dreams. You and you alone know what you're capable of doing. Don't let the self-doubt creep in or the noise of the naysayers distract you,” he said.
Plank encouraged graduates to lean on each other as future teammates. Don’t take this community for granted, he said, but be loyal, inclusive and welcoming to people who share the same desire for success and love for Maryland.
“Make a bet on a younger person, on someone who comes from a different background or someone who didn't have the same advantages that you have,” said Plank. “Make these bets and then support the hell out of your team. Believe in them and give them opportunities.”
Plank urged the graduates to go all-in on their professional aspirations and to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset.
“Whether it's in your career or in starting a new business, don't stop now – double down and take that bet. As of right now, you are no longer the leaders of tomorrow, you're the leaders of today. This is your great opportunity. Seize it; don't hedge. Bet on those around you, bet on yourself. Be generous and bet on Maryland.”
The University of Maryland's Main Commencement will be in-person on Friday, May 21. Details for that can be found at commencement.umd.edu.
Media Relations Manager
About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.