After sophomore guard Kevin Ware went down with a gruesome leg injury during Louisville's Elite Eight matchup with Duke last weekend, the Cardinals rallied around their fallen teammate and won the game. Inspirational Ware-themed T-shirts have since been produced, but Louisville claims it isn't cashing in on Ware's misfortunes.
UPDATE: Friday, April 5 at 2:55 p.m. ET by Mike Chiari
While Ware's injury has helped Louisville garner a lot of fan support over the past week, questions about where the money made off of his Adidas T-shirts is going has begun to overshadow that.
According to Dan Wolken of USA Today, Adidas will no longer sell the "Ri5e to the Occasion" shirts due to a "use of logo" issue.
Adidas' vague explanation makes it seem likely that the backlash involved with them profiting off Ware's injury caused the company to reconsider, but that obviously hasn't been proven.
--End of update--
According to Eric Crawford of WDRB News, there is some concern that the University of Louisville will make a profit from the Ware shirts that Adidas has specially produced in the wake of his injury.
However, Louisville sports information director Kenny Klein said that the school does not receive a cut of the shirt sales.
Associate athletic director Brent Seebohm added, "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."
A couple of different shirts are currently available for purchase with sayings such as "Ri5e to the Occasion" and "Win it for Kevin," although Smack Apparel, not Adidas, produces the latter shirt.
The Smack Apparel shirt could be in violation of NCAA licensing rules since it uses Ware's name rather than simply his number, although his last name isn't on the shirt, so perhaps the company has found a way to skirt the system.
Not only has Ware himself been photographed wearing the shirts but so have his teammates and countless Louisville basketball supporters.
Ware's injury is obviously unfortunate, but it has served as a battle cry of sorts for the Cardinals.
Not only did they go on to rout the Blue Devils by an 85-63 score to reach the Final Four, but now they have something to play for in addition to the allure of a national championship.
It's true that college sports tend to be about money more than anything these days, but it's important to remember the reasoning behind these shirts. Ware's teammates wanted to support him, and that is precisely what they will do, regardless of where the revenue ends up.
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