Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Tom Keegan: Is Adidas money worth the embarrassment for Kansas Athletics?

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) slap hands after connecting on a lob jam during the first half, Friday, March 23, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) slap hands after connecting on a lob jam during the first half, Friday, March 23, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.


The Kansas athletic department finds itself in an interesting pickle, having negotiated a 14-year, $191 million sponsorship and apparel agreement scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2019.

The deal hasn’t been signed, which is interesting, because the crimson trim of the blue Adidas uniforms mirrors the face of the athletic department at the moment.

From what has been reported so far, no evidence exists that anybody from KU Athletics was connected to payments allegedly made from Adidas to guardians of two members of this past season’s Final Four basketball team. But remember, Adidas is a partner to Kansas.

The partnership was formed in 2005.

Let’s assume, for the sake of posing a question, that nobody at Kansas from the coaching staff to the administration to the cookie vendor had even an inkling that Adidas was greasing palms to steer players to Lawrence.

Given that scenario, should Kansas be grateful to Adidas for allegedly delivering a player without whom the Jayhawks probably would not have made it to the Final Four, or should Kansas be furious at a shoe-company executive for dragging its name into a dirty play-for-pay scheme?

If the answer is the latter, then shouldn’t KU Athletics be looking to run as fast as it can in the other direction from Adidas, even if it means running barefoot until a deal with a company with a cleaner reputation can be negotiated? Like, say, Big Baller Brand, for instance?

The other option for KUAC, one that never would be challenged by its devoted fan base, would be to embrace that the Adidas executive in question went rogue, which enables Kansas to stay with the highest bidder. In other words, make it about principal and interest, not about principle.

This represents a defining choice for the university, one that ultimately will land on chancellor Douglas Girod’s desk. Again, the choice is a simple one: Go to the highest bidder or to the bidder with the highest principles, if indeed such a bidder exists.

Typically, when high-powered athletic departments find themselves embroiled in or on the edges of scandal, they dig in, wait for outside forces to make allegations, follow instructions of attorneys, make a statement here or there, wait for the final verdict, dust themselves off and move on. That goes for class credits for classes that don't exist, impermissible benefits, bribing shoe salesmen, etc.

Then again, you never know when an intolerant leader might come along and say enough is enough. Not on my watch.


Dane Pratt 2 years, 1 month ago

I wonder if any of next years recruits have cut a deal with Adidas.

David Reynolds 2 years, 1 month ago

Tom what company should KU sign with for it's equipment...Nike? Check out the following story.

This story say Nike wasn't directly implicated in the scandal, an employee was, just like the Adidas case.

So are you saying if someone at the Journal World newspaper is a bad actor relative to selling advertising, or something else we should all cancel our subscriptions to the news paper?

How about we all hold our breath until we know some facts, and that will take some time to write articles so they are fair to all sides.

Asking these kinds of questions, implying a whole company is bad & we shouldn't do business with them, because an employee did something wrong, is just casting aspersions. Is casting aspersions without knowing all the facts the right thing to do?

By extension your question regarding if KU should sign the Adidas apparel contract, should not even be asked at this time. We don't know enough to make the kind of judgements you have to imply to ask that question.

The very fact that KU is just sitting on the contract should tell you everything you need to know to answer your question. They are not signing it until they know it will not jeopardize KU athletics.

Why do writers always seem to have to write articles with a negative slant. Couldn't this article have been written with a positive slant, such as...KU is not singing the Adidas contract until everyone involved agrees it's appropriate to do so?

Gary Bedore's article reflecting the comments of Silvio De Sousa's guardian, Fenny Falmagne, denying taking any money & why, is a neutral article, only stating facts as Gary knows them. No implications!

Jim Stauffer 2 years, 1 month ago

I am glad Tom wrote the article so we could hear this rational response. Good job, David. This is obviously a dirty business, i.e. the money for DeSousa was to repay Under Armour for their dirty money. Maybe we could switch to that company.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

A lot of companies will contact Kansas but none of them will be anywhere near $191 million.

Dean Lawrence 2 years, 1 month ago

Intelligence is defined as the ability to reason and understand. David has displayed what writers should. Mr Keegan pay attention. You could lean something

Doug Aitken 2 years, 1 month ago

As for you, you could learn to spell the word "learn".

Pius Waldman 2 years, 1 month ago

A well written response. I also believe the committee NCAA has organized will come up with plans that will take care of the problems shoe companies have created.

Dale Rogers 2 years, 1 month ago

I think KU has to wait to see which, if any, other apparel company is clean. It's sounding like at least one other is known to be dirty. It would doubly embarrassing to dump Adidas and sign with another soon to be proven just as bad. I don't think they make a move until this thing shakes out.

Dale Rogers 2 years, 1 month ago

David, I didn't see your reply until after posting mine. Have to agree with you.

Gary McCullough 2 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps it's time for the University to stand up to corrupt business practices that impugn our reputation and harm the teams they are supposed to support. This seems the perfect time for this action because we are being harmed through no fault of ours. You move policy decisions by making principled stands. Unfortunately, by not speaking out we allow corruption to continue unabated.

Jason Venable 2 years, 1 month ago

KU Athletics moving forward with Adidas contract extension. Money talks. KU better take what they can being a BB school only.

Dane Pratt 2 years, 1 month ago

I suspect my opinion is in the minority but I think it’s time for KU to abandon the OAD recruiting strategy. It’s a high risk, low reward endeavor that is not paying dividends. None of them have lived up to their billing (except McLemore) in March and now we are looking at the possibility of vacating a conference title and final four. Future millionaires who are only on campus because they have to be are magnets for recruiting violations and financial improprieties. We know shoe companies paying athletes is a thing. If it happens again we can’t act innocent and say we didn’t know. Give Bill a roster of juniors and seniors and we’ll see more wins in the tournament.

Jim Hoffman 2 years, 1 month ago

Self reminded everyone, and hopefully himself, that he doesnt need a roster full of McDonald's All Americans to have success. Was reading about how Jay Wright at Nova started to get away from some of his recruiting principles after the 2009 final four, and realized he needed to stick to recruiting players that would fully buy into their culture, that he could develop and coach, and he's been rewarded for it. Would love to see KU get back to that as well.

Jim Stauffer 2 years, 1 month ago

Jim, you should probably check out the kids Jay has on his roster and has recruited for the future. They are pretty highly ranked. Probably as high ranking as ours are. Wright lives and recruits an area where there is a plethora of highly ranked kids that have absolutely no intention of leaving the city life for Kansas. He can fail ten times more than Self can and still recruit equal talent with less effort simply due to geography.

Craig Carson 2 years, 1 month ago

um Self has only had 9 players in 15 years who have left after one season..technically only 8 if you count McClemore as a Self hasnt incorporated the OAD strategy...and btw, Josh Jackson lived up his billing as well..

Dane Pratt 2 years, 1 month ago

ONLY 9? Would be even higher but some of those OAD recruits did not live up to their hype, like Wayne Selden who was expected to only be here one season. Point is, doesn't matter if they are one and done or two and done. Recruiting high profile players who are only here because they have to are risky. Now that we know what that risk is, do we really want to take the chance? I don't. I'd rather not get to the final four than have one taken away.

Craig Carson 2 years, 1 month ago

9 OAD is not alot..thats not even 1 per year...BTW, just because a kid is top 25 doesnt mean they are certified OAD...and what would you have Self do, only go after players who are low to non rated??!!!.if he did that KU would suck and we'd all be questioning his coaching abilities

Dane Pratt 2 years, 1 month ago

3-8 and 12 rebounds is not a bad day but it's far from great. Not what Bill was expecting when he recruited him.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

Incorporated? No doubt but not depending on it which I think you might have stated earlier.

Jim Stauffer 2 years, 1 month ago

Josh Jackson performed pretty well IMO.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 1 month ago

Exactly, Dane! All three of Bill Self's Final Four appearances came without any OADs playing.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

Pretty sure that De Sousa will end that streak. Do they have a separate 1/2 And Done?

Jesse Johnson 2 years, 1 month ago

Ok, but can we at least agree that we still need talent to win? Rush, Chalmers, Arthur and Collins were all Top 25 talent. We wouldn't have won the tournament without them. You say you just want a roster of juniors and seniors but our talented sophomores played a huge role in our 2008 championship. Darrell Arthur was the leading scorer against Memphis with 20 points, and he scored 4 of the 10 points in our crucial 10-1 late game tying run. Sherron Collins had 11, and made essential plays in that 10-1 late game tying run, including a steal and a 3 as well as making the assist to Chalmers for his 3.

The seniors in that game? Russel Robinson had 2 points, all game. Kaun had 4. Darnell had 8. Obviously they were a huge part of the team being successful all year long and played big roles in previous games, but when the championship was on the line, Bill Self put his senior glue guy PG (Robinson) on the bench and put in a much more talented sophomore (Collins) to play and if he hadn't done that, we would have lost the game.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

Is not that I disagree, it's that I think you are wrong when it comes to Coach Self recruiting OAD's. Self has rightly used a mix of glue players, top 50 players and OAD's but nowhere near as many (I'm sure most of us know the other teams) as some others have done.

I can see where some would say that we would have as many OAD's as possible if Coach Self could have landed more top 10 players but why would he then sign Ochai Agbaji, unranked in Rivals? You can say that he only signed him because of the unused scholarship but that is a very risky plan if you want to save a scholarship for 2019.

Maybe it's somewhere in the middle, more to degree than an actual right or wrong. Either way you wrote a thought-provoking post.

Garry Wright 2 years, 1 month ago

David Reynolds I fully agree with you. Judgement and decisions should be made after we know the facts, not before.

Tommy Zebman 2 years, 1 month ago

It would have been very easy to include a large financial penalty in the contract if any employee of Adidas was every found guilty of triggering a violation of NCAA recruiting rules relative to a player coming to KU. This would have sent a very strong message to Adidas management as to how KU operated. I am very certain that the small benefit that Adidas might have theoretically received by encouraging kids toward their sponsored schools, dwarfs in comparison to the damage it has caused to Adidas. By the way, the gravy train players in the NBA change sponsors like they change their clothes based on biggest payout. There is no loyalty at all based on college, or high school AAU influence, etc. The whole thing is a joke. In my opinion the contract amounts provided to sponsored schools are now too high relative to the financial benefit that Adidas will receive. But it is up to them to figure this out.

When it all shakes out, I would not be surprised if a significant portion of the money mentioned in the investigation coming out of these special expense accounts never even made it to a player or their family. Is Adidas going to hire an auditor?

Dirk Medema 2 years, 1 month ago

Tommy - You need to read the articles, linked in another comment, from the Oregonian. Might be the same as the one above from Business Insider. There are huge benefits of early brand identity. It's the reason Nike bought its own "AAU" BB league. It has given them something like a 85% market share of a multiB$ industry. They figured it out alright. Nike much earlier, and UA & Adidas are now playing catch-up.

I do wholeheartedly agree with your last comment. Much of what is documented so far is not the work of executives (1 was?). There was an interesting E--- article about how the investigation started because of an agent's bad business decisions - investing in bad movies, and then making blunder on top of blunder until he had dug himself a whole he couldn't get out of. I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't the case with Gatto as well.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

That exactly shows why we need to wait before making ANY rash decisions.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 1 month ago

Tom - At least you had the good sense to not have "cleaner reputation" and "Big Baller Brand" in the same sentence, tho the same paragraph is still way too close. Hopefully, they can stay exiled in some obscure European city/league. It has been so nicely quiet on that front for the last few months.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 1 month ago

Put a rider in the contract: any illegal activities by anyone affiliated with Adidas/UA/Nike/Puma - the payout doubles.

Danny Hernandez 2 years, 1 month ago

Maybe there is and until the Kansas University Athletic Department issues a statement to that fact, we don't know one way or another PLUS it is common to have clauses regarding liquidating damages in almost every contract

Ryan Richey 2 years, 1 month ago

...because Nike and UA are clean??? Haha. I bet you think college football is clean and this is only a college basketball problem too.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

I really think it depends on how far up the chain this decision to offer money and endorsements to get players to sign with Adidas schools.

I'm going to wait until a lot more comes out. When the news came out that Arizona's head coach was on wiretap discussing money to land Ayton everybody thought that Miller and Ayton were done and soon to be gone but now it seems to be old news already – well maybe not for those at the University of Arizona.

I just don't want us to overreact until all the FACTS have come out. It's quite possible that this was carried out without the company's knowledge. They have representatives everywhere thought this might be his way of getting more top players to endorse Adidas. Probably not the case but at this point, I'm not ready to condemn anyone... especially the players.

Phil Leister 2 years, 1 month ago

Does anyone honestly think that the guys choosing to to to UK haven't been funneled money by a Nike rep? As if a player is turning down $100k from adidas to go to a Nike school simply because they like the facilities? I think not.

Every company is dirty, it's naive to think otherwise. The FBI just happened to get wiretaps on adidas.

Tom Longhofer 2 years, 1 month ago

Go back to Converse (but Converse is owned by Nike)

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

Now it is but for a very long time, Converse was one of the big guys in athletic shoes and apparel.

Jonathan Allison 2 years, 1 month ago

I want to see an article on former college basketball players in the NBA and how many of they have a contract with the same shoe company that sponsored their college team?

What shoes does Wiggins wear? Embiid? Oubre? Morris twins? Who did TRob sign with? What about McLemore? Aldrich? Chalmers? etc.

Searching google images what I've seen is Wiggs, Embiid, Oubre, Diallo, McLemore all are wearing adidas. Josh Jackson's wearing Under Armour. Selden, the Morrii, TRob, Chalmers all are wearing Nikes. Aldrich used to wear adidas and now wears nikes.

It looks like most of our young guys sign with Adidas after the draft. Interesting that Jackson went with UA. It looks like between TRob and McLemore something changed and players started to become more loyal to Adidas... why? Self also started to have more success with 5 star recruits... with Wiggins, Embiid, Selden, Oubre, Alexander, Diallo, Jackson, Azubuike, Preston, De Sousa, McCormack, Dotson, Grimes... coincidence? ?maybe.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

You raise an interesting question. Are NBA teams sponsored by athletic shoe companies? What happens if a player endorsed by Adidas moves to a team that is endorsed by a different company?

Is a player bound to any contractual obligations made by his guardian/parents?

John Franken 2 years, 1 month ago

The entire NBA has a contract for uniforms and if I'm not mistaken, Adidas makes all NBA uniforms. As far as shoes go, there is zero obligation by players to wear a certain shoe based on the team they are on. However, there are unofficial team shoes when you have multiple stars on your team. The Golden State Warriors for instance have several Nike athletes so you will notice a lot of times that Steph's UA shoes will be hidden in team pictures. Likewise, team USA is Nike sponsored so non-nike athletes will ALWAYS have their shoes hidden in team photos. As for contractual obligations made by guardians/parents, any contract involving illegal activity would not hold up in court. They are really only able to enforce the obligation through endorsement blackballing, spreading rumors about the player to hurt their draft stock, or threatening to tip off the IRS about their extra "earnings".

Jonathan Allison 2 years, 1 month ago

The NBA as a whole has an apparel contract with Nike (was adidas until about 2 years ago). But the NBA contract does not pertain to shoes. Each player is given a certain amount of freedom to do what they want in terms of footwear. Usually at least for the top talents and new draftpicks they sign a shoe deal to wear a certain company's sneakers. The biggest stars of course get signature shoe, but most players don't get a signature shoe, but they get to wear pretty much whatever shoes that their brand offers.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 1 month ago

You have to admit, Kansas basketball has looked pretty sharp in their Adidas-made jerseys. During the same period, college teams that used Nike have had some ugly jerseys, especially the ones with the watermark or whatever it was on the back.

John Fitzgerald 2 years, 1 month ago

Kansas should just make their own apparel brand. Call it "Naismith One". They can be the first school to do it and then maybe all the other schools will do it to avoid the scandal of branding in today's sports. And then the University can pay a percentage to the players based on how much apparel they sell and keep it in a savings account for after they graduate or go pro. Granted a lot of the players won't need it then but it keeps them at amateur status since they're technically not getting paid yet and it gives them what they earned. Probably a horrible idea but something outside the box.

John Franken 2 years, 1 month ago

Not a terrible idea, but the NCAA has ruled that money players know they are getting after graduation is still considered a violation. Many coaches including former KU coach Roy Williams used to give their players graduation gifts and the NCAA decided these were violations. Minor violations but violations nonetheless.

Steve Corder 2 years, 1 month ago

PF Flyers, anyone?

Adidas, Nike...not like getting money from the drug cartels, or are they the moral equivalent to some people?

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

I bet Kansas will receive a lot of feelers from the other major players hoping that Kansas will make a rash decision without taking the time to really look at the options moving forward.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

Not sure if this is technically a straw man argument but this comment "That goes for class credits for classes that don't exist, impermissible benefits, bribing shoe salesmen, etc." putting bribing shoe salesman in the same sentence is completely off base.

I would think to ask: 'which one of these is not like the others' is much fairer. Fade out to Sesame Street music.

Dan Burns 2 years, 1 month ago

Big Baller Brand??? NEVER NEVER NEVER

John Fitzgerald 2 years, 1 month ago

Unless you're advocating my idea of Kansas creating their own brand "Naismith One" shortened to the acronym "NO."

Barry Weiss 2 years, 1 month ago

I concur, a big NO to that snake oil salesman at Big Baller. As to this idea that we should not go after top recruits because they are likely to be all on the take behind our back, that is just flawed thinking. I think the majority are all playing by the rules and not taking any money. So to adopt some policy of not trying to recruit them leaves alot of valuable, honest, talent on the table. I would not subscribe to that. One option could be to thoroughly vet these top recruits from a financial point of view before we sign them. Dig deep into their and their family's bank and financial records to see if any large deposits have gone in. Granted, it all may happen right about the time they sign. I think all these shoe/apparel companies should by required by some NCAA rule to be subject to a huge fine to the NCAA and to the school, if they are found to have funneled money to a recruit.

Jason Venable 2 years, 1 month ago

Just listened to it and how true all of it is.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 1 month ago

Public Enemy. I've got to say that they got it right.

Freddie Garza 2 years, 1 month ago

Athletic programs have been given the "death penalty" for lack of institutional control. I believe the NCAA should be subject to the same death penalty for failing to control its member institutions. Anyone who believes that the NCAA is unaware of these things is quite naive indeed.

Allin Herring 2 years, 1 month ago

We need to take the high road and not sign the contract Adidas. It is clear that Adidas is a slime bucket of a company and we need to take the high road in this issue and not follow the money that a lot of you all seem to want too do. KU has always been known as a program that always does things the right way and above reproach. NOW it is time to to tell Adidas the take their shoes and shove it. And them sue the heck out of,them.

Aaron Paisley 2 years, 1 month ago

And sign with who? Nike's EYBL circuit is currently under investigation and Under Armour was trying to outbid Adidas for DeSousa. Nobody is clean in this.

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