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University of Kansas strikes lucrative adidas extension

The University of Kansas has finalised a 14-year extension to its partnership with German sportswear manufacturer adidas, a deal that represents one of the most lucrative contracts in US college sport.

After initially being announced in September 2017, the deal has been revised and confirmed after it was originally placed on ice due to the corruption scandal that hit college sport.

The FBI probe into college basketball corruption involved former adidas executive James Gatto and implicated several schools. Kansas were drawn in when a superseding indictment filed in April 2018 alleged that Gatto and the coach of an adidas-sponsored team paid star athletes in an effort to encourage them to join Kansas.

As a result, Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa was suspended last season and the upcoming season. Gatto, former adidas consultant Merl Code and agent runner Christian Dawkins have been convicted of felony charges of wire fraud in the case.

Kansas has partnered with adidas since 2005. The extended contract is backdated to the 2017-18 season and will run through to 2031. The initial agreement announced in September 2017 was due to be worth $191m (€171.3m), but this has now been increased to $196m, averaging out at $14m per year.

The KUSports.com website said this more than doubles the average annual value of KU’s previous deal with adidas, a six-year extension signed in 2013 that built on the original eight-year contract.

“Chancellor (Douglas) Girod and I, and our staffs, did a very thorough vetting of adidas and what they were offering us,” athletic director Jeff Long said. “And after extensive conversations and commitments and meetings, we arrived at the decision that this was the best partnership for Kansas Athletics and the University of Kansas going forward. … We’re excited about this agreement. We believe it’s one that benefits both athletics and academics.”

Long added that KU finalised the deal after carefully analysing the results of the FBI investigation. “There’ve been many, many conversations, discussions, meetings to address those things,” Long said.

“We have commitments from adidas to work with us, to help change the nature of college basketball. … We spent months, months and months discussing (that) and believe we have a strong commitment from adidas to work with us to make that college recruiting environment better.”