After U of L scandal, a Kentucky lawmaker wants more scrutiny of university sports contracts
Rep. Kelly Flood's bill would require university trustees to approve deals with apparel companies.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The alleged pay-for-play scandal at the University of Louisville cost the athletics director and basketball coach their jobs and the school its reputation.
Now, Kentucky State Rep. Kelly Flood (D-Lexington) has filed a bill requiring more university scrutiny of sports contracts, like the controversial deal U of signed with Adidas deal.
“The school has a good reputation. I want to look out for it,” Flood said Friday. “I have been profoundly disappointed in the hit it took when I felt, this time, we could have done a bit more on our part to have protected ourselves."
Last August, then-athletics director Tom Jurich led the celebration of a new $160 million deal with Adidas. But it was later revealed the contract was never approved by the U of L athletics association or the board of trustees.
Both Jurich and basketball coach Rick Pitino would be fired after Adidas and U of L were implicated by the FBI in a plot to bribe the father of a prized recruit.
“There's lots of problems in the way these sports contracts are set up that can create a culture of corruption,” Flood said.
Flood said there's too much money in too few hands with too little oversight. And it is not just U of L. Her bill requires sports contracts by all the state's universities to be approved by their trustees.
Flood said she examined both U of L’s contract with Adidas and the University of Kentucky’s $47 million deal with Nike. She said both offer little protection to the universities if the companies violate NCAA rules.
“These corporate partnerships are growing exponentially, and it's time to make sure that the trustees stay on top of this new source of revenue,” Flood said.
Bill Stone, a former U of L trustee who currently sits on the athletics association board, offered a blunt assessment of the bill.
“Philosophically, the whole thing is a bad idea,” he said Friday.
Stone said Frankfort should butt out of university business.
“We do not need individual members of the legislature, in order to get a little publicity for themselves, instructing universities how to govern themselves,” Stone said.
Flood said her bill is all about inserting checks, balances and integrity into a landscape where universities are receiving fewer state funds and relying more on private dollars.
“This shooting it up and bringing it back down, to me, that's just how you tighten the net of support in protecting our public universities,” she said.
U of L spokesperson John Karman said university officials have not read the bill and could not comment.
Interim Athletics Director Vince Tyra said last fall there is nothing tainted about the Adidas deal, and it is still in place.
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