Prior to the 2013 NCAA tournament Adidas issued redesigned uniforms for some of the programs they sponsor. Their finished product got a lot of negative publicity for obvious reasons.
What got considerably less attention was the inspirational phrase “Rise to the Occasion” that they started printing on team t-shirts.
Final Four teams like Louisville and Michigan have been wearing the shirts as warmups all tournament.
In the days leading up to Final Four weekend in Atlanta, Adidas has released a new “Rise to the Occasion” t-shirt for the Louisville Cardinals — one that features Kevin Ware’s number.
Notice how the letter “S” in rise has been replaced with the number “5.”
The shirts will undoubtedly be extremely popular among Louisville fans showing support for Ware. But by purchasing the $25.99 t-shirt, these fans will be financially supporting the University of Louisville and Adidas.
Since Ware and his family are not allowed by NCAA rule to profit from the shirt sales, we wondered if perhaps the proceeds would be donated to charity, as otherwise, this is simply an instance of two wealthy institutions capitalizing on one young person’s terrible misfortune. Louisville’s sports information department told us they were not aware of any such plans. We’ve also placed a call to Adidas and will update when and if we hear back from them.
Update - Apr. 3, 10 p.m.: Since our original report, Louisville’s athletic department has announced that they will be waiving the royalty revenue they will receive from sales of the new t-shirt.
Eric Crawford, Louisville sports columnist for WDRB, quotes U of L associate athletic director Brent Seebohm, who said the school, “proactively decided to waive any traditional licensing royalties revenue connected to the No. 5 graphic to be worn by the team on the court…The shirt was created as a respectful tribute to honor Kevin within NCAA trademark apparel parameters, and allow fans to rally around the team. Because of that, Adidas is contributing a portion of every sell to the university’s scholarship fund.”
Adidas has not announced how much they will be donating per t-shirt.
Update - Apr. 4, 10:15p.m.: The shirts are no longer available, though no reason has been provided for discontinuing their sale. (h/t Darren Rovell)