Louisville Pulls Promotional Kevin Ware T-shirt from Online Store
The University of Louisville online store has pulled a T-shirt imprinted with Kevin Ware's jersey number after a strong backlash on the Internet. The Louisville Cardinals 2013 Final Four Rise Up #5 On-court T-shirt was removed from the site just days after it was unveiled amid accusations that the university and Adidas were trying to capitalize on a student's injury.
Ware, a sophomore at the University of Louisville and guard on the Louisville Cardinals, suffered a horrific injury during the team's March 31 game against Duke. After attempting to block a shot, Ware landed on his right leg and collapsed due to a severe compound fracture that was visible beneath the skin. The injury, and his teammates' reactions, was captured live on television.
The university store added the new T-shirt on April 3, which incorporates Ware's jersey number 5 to the team's "Rise to the Occasion" slogan. Louisville fans immediately said the move was in poor taste and accused both Louisville and Adidas of trying to profit from Ware's pain. Several sources noted that proceeds from the T-shirt, which retails for $24.99, did not go to Ware or his family.
"Louisville and Adidas don't deserve to wring one more cent out of Kevin Ware's name, and they are greedy vampires for trying to do so now," wrote Tom Ley of Deadspin. "Kevin Ware has already helped line the pockets of Louisville, Adidas and the NCAA by laboring freely in the pursuit of a dream which may very well have been permanently derailed by his injury. Kevin Ware will never see a dollar of the revenue that was produced by his performance on the Louisville men's basketball team, and he will never see a dollar of the revenue that is produced by the sale of this shirt."
The university responded to the outcry, saying they "proactively decided to waive any traditional licensing royalties revenue connected to the No. 5 graphic to be worn by the team on the court," according to Brent Seebohm, associate athletic director of the University of Louisville. He added that Adidas is contributing a portion of every sale to the university's scholarship fund. Seebohm also said that NCAA regulations prohibit student athletes from earning money related to their gameplay, so the school would not give the proceeds to Ware even if it wanted to.
Despite claiming that the T-shirts were made available with the best intentions, the university pulled the shirt from the store without comment on Thursday. The item's page has since reappeared with a description stating that the school has waived any royalties from the sale. However, as of the time of publication, the product also carries another disclaimer: "Sorry, we no longer carry this item."
Kyle A. Richardson is the editorial director of Promo Marketing. He joined the company in 2006 brings more than a decade of publishing, marketing and media experience to the magazine. If you see him, buy him a drink.