SBD/November 21, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

PSU Merchandise Sales Way Down From Same Time Last Year Amid Scandal

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PSU merchandise sales have dropped about 40% compared to same period last year
Sales of hats, shirts and other items "emblazoned with the Penn State name have plummeted about 40 percent overall compared with the same period last year," according to retailers and industry analysts cited by Joann Loviglio of the AP. SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said, "This is the first time I can recall ever seeing a decline of sales right out of the box." Powell indicated that PSU "typically ranks in the top 10 in sales, capturing roughly $80 million annually." Powell: "They probably made about $3 million last year from sales of royalty products. This is a very unusual situation, and my gut tells me it’s not going away, at least in the short term." For the week after the child sexual abuse scandal broke, PSU’s "slice of the market share was about 1.93 percent." Powell said that during the "same week last year, that figure stood at 2.67 percent" (AP, 11/20).

SIMPLY YES MEN?
In Pennsylvania, Charles Thompson noted many of those on PSU's Board of Trustees "were blindsided by the whole affair." Several trustees indicated that the investigation "was rarely, if ever, discussed at meetings this year, even after The Patriot-News published a March 24 story outlining much of the developing case against" former assistant PSU football coach Jerry Sandusky. The trustees' "lack of preparation has exasperated some outside observers." In some cases, it "raised questions about whether a board that was largely seen as a privileged group of yes men for Spanier can take the steps needed to recover from the scandal" (Harrisburg PATRIOT-NEWS, 11/20). Meanwhile, Penn State took to ESPN’s airwaves during coverage of Saturday’s game against Ohio State to address the issue. New school President Dr. Rodney Erickson spoke directly into the camera and said, “As we struggle with the recent terrible news, I have seen another more hopeful side of Penn State emerge, one that focuses on compassion, generosity, and resilience. I’m proud of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends who have come together and joined others across the nation in support of the victims and each other. I am committed to leading Penn State through this difficult time and restoring your trust and confidence. You have my promise.” A short message remained at the bottom of the screen throughout the 30-second announcement: “This message furnished by the Pennsylvania State University” ("Penn State-Ohio State," ESPN, 11/19).

UNUSUAL INVESTIGATION: In N.Y., Pete Thamel reported the NCAA has "sent Penn State a letter announcing it will begin an inquiry into the university's institutional control and ethical conduct stemming from" the Sandusky situation. NCAA President Mark Emmert said that the organization would "examine both a lack of institutional control, one of the most serious charges the NCAA can make against a university, as well as 'the actions, and inactions, of relevant responsible personnel.'" Emmert said, "The circumstances are uncharted territory in many ways. This is not in my mind or in many other people’s mind an unprecedented application of our bylaws and our constitution. It is a very unusual set of circumstances." Emmert "stressed that the letter sent to Penn State was different from a formal NCAA investigation letter." It "includes a series of questions for Penn State to answer, and Emmert said that the NCAA would monitor the case throughout the legal process." The NCAA will "not send investigators to Penn State’s campus" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/19).
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