SBD/Issue 34/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Penn State's "Cross-Like" T-Shirt Design Creates Controversy

People Complaining New Penn State
T-Shirt Connotes A Christian Cross
Penn State Univ. has received several complaints about a "blue, cross-like design emblazoned on T-shirts ... from people who say it connotes a Christian cross," according to Joshua Rhett Miller of FOXNEWS.com. The shirts "sport a vertical blue line down the center with the words 'Penn State White Out' emblazoned across the chest." The back of the shirt "depicts the same blue line obscured by the words, 'Don't be intimated ... It's just me and 110,000 of my friends.'" Around 30,000 of the shirts have been sold. Penn State VP/University Relations Bill Mahon said that the design was "based on the single blue stripe on the football team's helmets and will not be pulled from store shelves as some have asked." Mahon: "The shirts have sold out and no changes are planned. ... Six complaints is not a controversy." Anti-Defamation League Eastern Pennsylvania-Delaware Regional Dir Barry Morrison said that the "similarity to a cross appeared to [be] 'inadvertent and unintentional,' but he acknowledged that some could take exception" (FOXNEWS.com, 10/26). The DAILY COLLEGIAN's Caitlin Sellers noted the shirt was designed by Penn State student Emily Sabolsky in a "contest sponsored by the Collegian's business division." Penn State Associate AD of Marketing & Communications Greg Myford said that the shirt "sold extremely well and that student participation in last year's T-shirt design contest was at an all-time high" (DAILY COLLEGIAN, 10/23).

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