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IF YOU CAN'T SAY SOMETHING NICE: WISC. REEBOK DEAL ALTERED
Published June 28, 1996
The Univ. of WI-Madison and Reebok agreed to eliminate a "controversial" portion of their multimillion-dollar outfitting contract regarding free speech, according to the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The "no-disparagement" clause had prohibited the university from issuing any negative statements about Reebok. It also called for UW officials to respond quickly to its employees' criticism of Reebok. In a prepared statement, UW Chancellor David Ward said, "We initiated this action to relieve any anxiety and eliminate any misunderstanding about this aspect of the contract. This language applied to official university statements and ... was never intended to abridge First Amendment rights." Ward said UW approached Reebok about eliminating the clause, and company officials agreed to the change. The removal of the clause does not guarantee the end of the Reebok "controversy." The WI Attorney General's office is reviewing a separate request by the JOURNAL SENTINEL, which has raised questions about the legality of the deal's approval process. Reebok and the university have tentatively agreed to five-year outfitting deal worth $7.9M (Tom Vanden Brook, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/28).