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Adidas Offer Could Cost Chapel Hill Schools Too Much

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CHAPEL HILL — A Chapel Hill athlete returned from basketball camp with a merchandising offer that may cost more than school leaders are willing to pay. The proposal brings home the business of high school basketball.

Adidas offered high-school standout Chris Hobbs sports gear for his entire East Chapel Hill High School team. But school leaders aren't sure if they want their team sporting the Adidas logo exclusively.

College athletes sport sneakers provided by shoe-makers as part of million dollar deals.

But the shoes pounding the high school hardwoods are paid for by the players. And just as the $7 million Nike deal drew protests at UNC, the Adidas offer is stirring up controversy for the Chapel Hill school board.

Thursday night, Chris Hobbs' father spoke to the board. "The first thing out of Chris' mouth was 'This'll be great because now the parents don't have to ante up any money for any clothes.'"

Board Member Harvey Goldstein says school board members must think in larger terms. Goldstein says the deal is inviting corruption.

"Anyone who has casually read the sports page of the newspapers over the last few years realizes that collegiate sports have been corrupted by athletic shoe companies," Goldstein says. "I'm not eager to let them get involved in high school athletics."

But East Chapel Hill's basketball coach says unless the board stops him, he plans to accept the Adidas deal.

"We have young men who can't afford their gear each year," Ray Hartsfield says. "We have to have fundraisers and that takes up a lot of time. We just feel like it was a positive step."

But the school can't take any steps yet, until the school board makes a final decision. They're expected to resolve the issue at their next meeting on October 15.

The board could choose to get involved and prevent the deal. Or they could decide to take no action, in which case the coach could proceed with deal, worth $2,380 to the team.

Adidas offered high schools in Salisbury and Charlotte the same deal. Both schools rejected the offer. Reporter: Todd HauerPhotographer: Chad Flowers


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