SBJ/April 9 - 15, 2007/This Weeks News

Another title, another special logo for Gator goods

Just how many T-shirts do University of Florida fans need? Licensees are about to find out.

With product featuring Florida’s dual national championships in football and basketball still on the shelf, new Gator T-shirts, hats and other apparel are on the way to market with a new mark for yet another national title.

The school won its second straight men’s basketball title on April 2 and, combined with its football crown from January, now owns three consecutive championships in the two major sports.

While Collegiate Licensing Co., the licensing agent for Florida, sent out a new back-to-back logo for Florida’s basketball titles within hours of the victory, licensees appear to be interested in a back-to-back-to-back theme for product to highlight the football title as well.

TL Sportswear in Leesburg, Fla., produced T-shirts through the night after the Gators’ 84-75 win over Ohio State that read “3rd time’s a charm.” It included marks from the 2006 NCAA basketball tournament, 2006 BCS championship and 2007 basketball tournament.

“Three championships in 364 days. That’s never happened before,” said J.R. Hirschfeld, owner of TL Sportswear, which produced 30,000 T-shirts in the day and a half after Florida’s win. “We did about 100,000 shirts after they won the football championship and we’ll do about 100,000 for the three championships in the next week. But the demand for this one is going to linger for a while. These shirts are going to blow out of the stores.”

The multiple championship wear is costlier for licensees because they have to pay a 3 percent royalty to the BCS and a 3 percent royalty to the NCAA for use of those marks, in addition to the standard 12 percent royalty. Florida typically pays CLC a 10 percent royalty from their revenue-sharing agreement.

It remains uncertain how much revenue Florida will realize from its titles. It wasn’t even expecting to know licensing revenue from its football championship until the second quarter of the year. Licensing revenue in 2005-06 rose from $2.5 million to more than $3 million, and it is expected to rise again this year on the strength of the school’s last two titles.

Heath Price, CLC’s director of university services for the Southeastern Conference, said early indications from licensees showed heavy interest in accentuating the three titles.

“This is uncharted waters from a licensing standpoint,” Price said. “A lot of licensees are wanting to call this back-to-back-to-back, and even though it’s not technically correct, it is three major championships in a row.

“We had a lot of licensees focused on the dual championships and now a lot want to be back out there.”

About 100 licensees produced Florida goods with just the football championship mark. Price anticipates fewer, about 50 to 60 licensees, going to market with the three-title merchandise.

“Retailers are holding a lot of product right now,” Price said. “And what’s there isn’t as attractive as it was a week ago because now Florida has another championship,” which means consumers can expect a lot of the dual-championship apparel to go on sale soon.

While three-time champion product is expected to be wildly popular, the T-shirt that celebrates just the 2007 basketball title will probably be marginalized, Price said.

CLC had an official on the ground in Gainesville, Fla., as early as Tuesday, the day after the title game, to police bootleggers of unlicensed product. Price cautioned that the use of “Three-peat” must be licensed through Miami Heat coach Pat Riley, who trademarked the phrase when he was coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.

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