SBJ/March 6 - 12, 2006/This Weeks News

SEC continues to press retro effort

Event One officials are used to setting up shop at major men’s college basketball conference tournaments, selling primarily T-shirts and hats. This weekend, for the first time, the company will be selling jerseys, as well.

SEC teams, including Alabama and Florida,
wore throwbacks for a week in February.
Company officials said they plan to bring 400 throwback jerseys to the SEC men’s tournament in Nashville as part of a tournamentwide retro theme to honor the SEC’s eighth decade of basketball. The SEC introduced the jerseys for each of the conference’s 12 members Feb. 18-26 as part of what was dubbed Throwback Week in the league.

It’s not the first collegiate use of alternate jerseys this academic year, but it stands as one of the more broad-based efforts. In addition to being available at Gaylord Entertainment Center this weekend, the jerseys have been available via secstore.com and at some campus bookstores.

The adult jerseys sell for $59 each at retail, youth jerseys for $49. The SEC gets 2 percent of sales, and each school gets 8 percent of the sales from its own jerseys. Scott Bouyack, vice president with SEC licensing partner Collegiate Licensing Co., said that could mean up to $32,000 for a school from the retro sales effort.

Charlie Hussey, assistant director for championships and marketing, said the SEC wants to draw attention to its underplayed basketball tradition. SEC teams wore the jerseys for all 18 conference games during Throwback Week, including 13 that were televised, and plan to wear them exclusively this weekend, when all 11 games will be televised.

Bouyack also said the initiative is less about capitalizing on fashion trends than highlighting tradition.

“The trend toward throwback jerseys as a fashion item died a couple of years ago,” Bouyack said. “This is focused more at the true, hard-core fans.”

Earlier this basketball season, Duke, Maryland and Michigan State were among several schools that wore silver, metallic-colored jerseys from Nike during the nationally televised ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Texas also unveiled a black jersey for its December CBS tilt against Duke.

During football season, Nike schools Miami, Oregon, Florida and Virginia Tech wore so-called “mismatched-sleeve” jerseys during key televised games. Subsequent sales of the jerseys were brisk at campus stores, school officials said: Virginia Tech bookstores sold 120 jerseys with the alternate design almost immediately, Oregon bookstores sold out their stock in 10 days and Florida bookstores sold every non-XXL jersey available at a price of $75 each.

Bouyack noted, however, that any jersey alteration needs to be mindful of tradition, even if aiming to emphasize that very element.

“College fans are so intensely loyal to their schools,” Bouyack said, “and a big part of that loyalty is the way their schools look on the field or on the court.”

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