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Thursday, October 20, 2005
If the shoe fits: Adidas will allow Nichols to shop

Associated Press

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Adidas said Thursday it would not require an Arkansas State basketball player to wear two of its shoes -- but would let Jerry Nichols look through its selection of footwear with the hope that he will pick something the company makes.

"We're going to meet with him and try to reach a solution," said Kelly Olmstead, a spokeswoman for Portland, Ore.-based adidas. "But we're not coming down there to tell him that he has to wear our shoes."

Nichols said he suffered an injury in adidas shoes and wants to wear Nikes while playing for the Indians. Arkansas State has a contract with adidas, and athletic director Dean Lee told Nichols he had to wear its footwear. Nichols has skipped practices since Monday.

Lee confirmed Thursday that adidas had granted a waiver of its contract as it applied to Nichols, and Nichols only.

"He will be back [practicing] with the team," Lee said. "With this waiver from Adidas, he will be able to participate with Adidas-approved shoes."

In a university press release, Nichols apologized to the team's fans for "all the confusion that was caused in this process."

"I'm very proud to be a part of this university," Nichols said. "I'm also thankful to adidas. Finally, I want to apologize to my teammates and coaches for the whole ordeal."

Olmstead said Thursday that the dispute was between Lee and Nichols. She said the company would like Nichols to wear its shoes, and would try to accommodate him, but that Nichols' refusal would have no bearing on the adidas-Arkansas State pact.

Arkansas State practiced at mid-afternoon but team spokesman Bill Bowen said he didn't know whether Nichols was in attendance. Lee did not immediately return calls for comment.

Coach Dickey Nutt said he was hopeful that a new pair of shoes would bring Nichols back to practice. Nichols is the Indians' top returner.

"We're excited about that and we're hopeful that he will make the decision to wear that and that it's something that feels comfortable to him," Nutt said Wednesday.

Adidas was sending company representative Ginger Tivey to Jonesboro to meet with Nichols and hear his concerns.

"We're always interested in hearing from athletes about our products," Olmstead said.