URI contract with Adidas a far cry from the company’s other pacts

Photo provided by the University of Rhode Island

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The University of Rhode Island’s contract with Adidas is compensated in product, rather than cash, according to a review of the document that was obtained following an Access to Public Records Act (APRA) request.

Last week, 10 people were arrested, including the director of global sports marketing at Adidas, James Gatto, and several NCAA coaches. Federal investigators said the arrests were part of an ongoing, nationwide fraud and corruption probe allegedly involving college basketball.

URI spokesman Dave Lavallee said to his knowledge, no one from the university has been contacted by investigators.

But while a number of reports indicate Adidas marketing contracts can reach more than $100 million with colleges, the pact with URI indicates the university gets paid “cash,” but only if the men’s or women’s basketball teams advance to the “Final 4” or “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Tournament.

According to the contract, URI could receive cash or “product credit,” depending on how well university sports teams do in their respective seasons.

Conference titles or conference Coach of the Year awards for any team would be awarded with product credit of various amounts, but Adidas redacted the amounts the university would receive, citing law about “trade secrets.”

A cover letter from Adidas that came with our public records request claimed trade secrets “of a privileged or confidential nature,” shall not be deemed public.

Lavallee told us he was looking into whether or not the university would release the potential product credit and dollar amounts.

According to the wording in the contract, URI was eligible last season to receive a product credit when the men’s team reached the NCAA Tournament, and the university fell one win short of qualifying for a cash payment.

The contract indicates the men’s basketball team receives the most “product allotment,” including free shoes, travel suits, game balls and a product credit for head coach Dan Hurley, who is not identified by name in the document.

The women’s basketball squad is the only other URI team that receives gear according to the “product allotment” clause, which states the team gets a set number of shoes each year at no charge.

Lavallee said URI has contracted with Adidas for 10 years, adding that the agreement is up next year and currently out to bid. But he said the fact that the state is accepting bids is connected to the expiration date of the contract.

Send tips to Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau