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Big stadium donation, Adidas extension on horizon for KU Athletics

According to KU Athletics officials, Memorial Stadium is set to undergo a $300 million renovation. Currently, architects are completing renderings of the renovation plans.

According to KU Athletics officials, Memorial Stadium is set to undergo a $300 million renovation. Currently, architects are completing renderings of the renovation plans. by Nick Krug

The downside of Big 12 membership for Kansas is that it ensures a brutal schedule for a rebuilding football program.

With the exception of Baylor (0-3), which visits Memorial Stadium on Nov. 4, every conference member is off to a significantly better start than Kansas.

The upside of Big 12 membership gets better all the time and far outweighs the burden the football schedule brings. After all, there is a positive as well to playing in such a tough conference. Members can recruit to it.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby spelled out clearly speaking at Big 12 Football Media Day the financial benefits to members.

“It varies a little bit from institution to institution based upon how they did in some of our championships -- but we distributed a little over $34 million last year,” Bowlsby said. “That is about a 15-percent increase from the previous year. That also, I would remind you, doesn't include our third-tier rights, which in the case of several of our schools are very substantial. “So we felt like we really have continued to compete from a financial standpoint. Among the critical success factors for any conference is the ability to distribute money to its members, and I think that we've continued to keep pace there.”

No disputing that.

In order to ensure it keeps its place in such a lucrative conference, Kansas must eventually get football turned around to the point it draws much bigger crowds and becomes a more appealing team for prime TV slots.

To that end, KU is trying to raise a stunning $300 million to renovate Memorial Stadium. No specific plans have been revealed for the first phase of renovations, but should come this month, perhaps tied to an announcement of a $50 million donation from a prominent KU graduate.

Even without a competitive football team in recent years, Kansas remains an appealing brand for apparel and equipment companies.

Look for Adidas to extend its six-year, $26 million deal with Kansas that expires in 2019, and do it in a way that could put KU at the top of its schools in terms of dollars and products received.

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