No more than six weeks ago, the Nebraska Board of Regents approved continuing on with the athletic apparel provider Adidas to keep outfitting Husker Athletics for the next five seasons, keeping on a partnership that started back in 1995.
However, with some issues being brought to the forefront, could Nebraska be on the way to reviewing their deal?
B1G schools, adidas on shaky ground es.pn/ZjWeyW— Rittenberg/Bennett (@ESPN_BigTen) April 30, 2013
The above tweet takes you to a piece on ESPN that links you to a second piece giving a full detailed story about the tribulations that Adidas is having with college athletics lately.
To summarize, a company in Indonesia called PT Kizone pull shenanigans on both current and former employees starting in September 2010, ranging from missing payments to terminated former employees to missing payroll for current ones. In March 2011, the company was purchased, but only to shut down a full month later due to bankrupcy.
Because of the PT Kizone issue, several international workers right groups are claiming that Adidas owed $1.8 million in severance and such. Nike and the Dallas Cowboys were also mentioned in the issue, but both the Cowboys and Nike have sent in payments for said issues. Adidas, meanwhile, have not paid anything towards this. Furthermore, Adidas has said they don't owe a dime to them.
Because of this, the companies relationship with several schools have suffered. Penn State has suspended their deal with the school, Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit, while future B1G school Rutgers flat out fired the Three Stripes over this. Minnesota has informed Adidas they will not renew any contract with them. All these schools have ranged from outfitting athletic departments to just basic licensing apparel for sale within things like bookstores, the local hotel gift shop and other things.
One school that everyone seems to be watching is Michigan. The Wolverines have one of the most lucrative contracts with Adidas, snagging a total of over $60 million for their pie. An amount that some (me included) call extraordinary in this day and age
Now, this could mean nothing for Nebraska with their new deal. Adidas was the best deal out there, remember, and companies like Nike and such 1) didn't even come close to what Adidas offered, and 2) it's not like Nike and such have been so clean on overseas labor. Nike only looks good in this deal because they have sent money to rectify the situation created.
However, it's something to watch down the line. Adidas, to their credit, have taken steps to rectify this situation and make their US university folks happy. However, the fact that it had to come that the Three Stripes getting heat from their biggest clients should make you wonder if they are taking things seriously. Then again, I saw the NCAA tourney uniforms they rolled out, and I already wonder about that.
Does it mean Nebraska should file suit? No, not right now at least. However, I will say it's something to pay attention to. Nebraska and Adidas seem to have a fantastic relationship, but who knows what would happen if things digressed in time with this issue? Would Nebraska bolt and find someone else? Would Nebraska stay and catch all sorts of hell for this? It (hopefully) may never come to that, and would be ideal. But, never say never.