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Kansas Athletics Inc. should rip up a proposed 12-year, $191 million contract extension with Adidas and cut bait with the much-maligned sporting apparel company.

Otherwise the nonprofit that operates under the auspices of the University of Kansas' athletic department runs the risk of appearing complicit in a pay-for-play scheme that has ensnared the family and guardian of two KU basketball players.

The U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York alleges in a superseding indictment in college basketball's ongoing FBI investigation that an Adidas executive arranged a monetary payment to a mother and a guardian of two unidentified KU student-athletes.

The wire fraud and related charges are based on the legal theory that casts federally funded universities as victims. The illegal payments were made without the knowledge of the university, the feds say.

Basketball coach Bill Self believes the program did nothing wrong but declined further comment. No member of the Kansas coaching or athletic staff was implicated in the scandal.

KU and the NCAA are considered victims.

"I'll reserve comment further in detail ... and let the university speak to specific matters," Self said.

Under shameful and almost exploitative NCAA rules, athletes are prohibited from making money on their talents. According to the indictment, the schools were defrauded because they issued financial aid to the players under false pretenses.

In response, Kansas officials claimed they were indeed victims.

"The indictment does not suggest any wrongdoing by the university, its coaches or its staff," a university spokesman said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said KU was in moving forward with the $191 million Adidas sponsorship deal.

"We're working on a long-form contract right now, but it's not done yet," Marchiony said.

Forbes reported earlier this year that KU's existing agreement with Adidas from 2014 through 2019 is one of the 20 most valuable apparel deals in college.

Undoubtedly, mega deals with sporting apparel companies such as Adidas can provide an important revenue stream for athletic departments, but at what cost to the overall image of the university?

KU's hallowed basketball program is extremely valuable and marketable. To keep its luster, university officials should distance KU from tainted money and seek sponsorship from a different source after their original deal with Adidas expires next year.

Commentary on 04/14/2018

Print Headline: Rip up Adidas contract

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