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[Updated] College football: Nebraska and the father of its star quarterback terminate business agreement

The University of Nebraska and the father of its star quarterback, Taylor Martinez, have agreed to terminate a business arrangement that was entered into nearly one year before Martinez committed to play football for the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska issued a news release Wednesday in which Athletic Director Tom Osborne stated that the licensing agreement between the university and Casey Martinez, who owns the Southern California-based apparel company Corn Fed, will end. 

"Both parties agreed that it would be prudent to no longer have a licensing relationship between the University of Nebraska and Corn Fed," Osborne said in the release. "Both the Martinez family and the University of Nebraska feel this decision is best for all parties, and specifically in helping limit distractions for Taylor and the football program."

The Times first raised questions in December 2010 about the agreement, which records show began in June 2007, nearly one year before Taylor Martinez committed to play football for Nebraska. 

By terms of the agreement, Nebraska received a 10% royalty on all Corn Fed products it sells. That, according to Michael Stephens, Nebraska's assistant athletic director for marketing, licensing and concessions, has been less than $500 over a period of more than three years.

Casey Martinez and Stephens have said the agreement had nothing to do with the quarterback, a point Osborne echoed again Wednesday. 

"The licensing relationship with Corn Fed began in the summer of 2007 before our football program had initiated any recruiting contact with Taylor and his family, or had any knowledge of Taylor as a prospective student-athlete," Osborne said. 

"Corn Fed is a solid company which has demonstrated success in the apparel business, and has been a licensee not only of Nebraska, but several other schools around the country. There is nothing in the licensing agreement between the two parties that is in any way non-compliant with NCAA rules."

An NCAA spokesman, speaking generally, previously said such a deal would not constitute an NCAA violation.

But new questions were raised recently when it was learned that Taylor Martinez is registered as the owner of the Corn Fed trademark and also the CornFed.com domain name, an arrangement that also does not violate NCAA rules. (It appears the URL for CornFed.com has now been privatized and registered to a location in Bellevue, Wash.)

"However, because of the attention this agreement has caused, Casey Martinez recently initiated a conversation with Nebraska about ending the licensing relationship," Osborne said in the release.

[Update: 2:52 p.m. Casey Martinez just issued the following statement: 

"As Coach Osborne stated, I made the decision to end our agreement to prevent any distractions to my son's time at the University of Nebraska, as well as the football program. Although the agreement between Corn Fed and University of Nebraska was established before my son was even a football recruit."

"No monetary gain is worth potential distractions to the football program or our son that may be associated with this agreement. Licensed sales make up a very small portion to our national sales, with the bulk of our sales coming from non-licensed sales from our blue-collar customer base that consists of professional athletes and musicians that wear the Corn Fed brand founded on work ethics and traditional values that will not be compromised."]

-- Baxter Holmes

 
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