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Interesting Numbers in College Sports Licensing

Sports licensing fees is money that rains from heaven on college and pro teams. But in college, some of the names that top to list are surprising. See if you are dumbfounded.

See if you're surprised (Photo-Larry Burton)

Interesting Numbers in College Sports Licensing

By: Larry Burton

One of the great things about a sportswriter is the data you get that most ordinary fans never see. While writing stories this time of year, you can go one of two ways, write a piece on things that everyone is writing about, such as combine stats and draft projections or something that is different and informative that may make you go hmmmm.

Let’s go the later this time and talk about sports revenue obtained from licensing. This is the money the colleges and universities earn every time a fan buys an “officially licensed” tee shirt, cap or other piece of apparel or souvenir.

Sports licensing is a dream come true for both college and pro teams. It’s like having money fall from heaven into your coffers for doing nothing at all except for having loyal fans that want to own or wear something that shows their school pride. It sort of makes you wonder why schools don’t sponsor “Show Your Spirit Days” and encouraging fans to only show up to their games in school gear.

While this is a pulse point you can use to both measure and identify and measure the fans loyalty to a school by both buying and displaying their pride in their favorite program, what was interesting to me was that some of the schools that haven’t experienced a lot to be proud of lately are doing much better than those that have sported great football or basketball seasons.  These figures are taken from a list of the schools that earned the most overall revenue from sports from the end of the 2016 season.

So who are the schools that buying up the most “officially licensed” products? Well here we go:

School and millions of dollars in licensed product income

1. University of Texas – 60.7

2. Michigan – 55.6

3. Alabama – 52.5

4. Ohio State – 49.91

5. Wisconsin – 49.9

6. Oklahoma – 46.6

7. Michigan State – 41.7

8. Tennessee – 41.4

9. Tie – University of Minnesota and Iowa – 41.1

10. Florida State – 40.5

11. Kentucky – 40.1 (Thank God for a good basketball program)

12. LSU – 40

13. Washington – 39.7

14. Georgia – 38.1

15. Florida – 34.4

16. Tie – Texas A&M  and Penn State – 37.5

17. Auburn – 37.2

18. Kansas – 35.7

19. Oregon – 35.6

20. Arkansas – 31.9

21. Oklahoma State – 31.9

22. South Carolina – 31.6

23. Arizona – 29.9

For those counting, that’s 10 SEC schools on the list, 7 Big Ten, 4 Big 12, and 3 Pac 10 schools on this list. Apparently it isn’t cool to wear college gear on the left coast.

What’s interesting is Texas being number one in rabid fandom. What the heck are they so rabid about? That school has been spiraling down for a while now. The same may be said for Tennessee and Michigan State, but still their fans keep plunking down their dollars in bad times.

And you have to admire those Golden Gopher fans in Minnesota who support their school year in and year out with top apparel sales despite decades of drought from the limelight. It’s amazing they beat schools like FSU, LSU and the vast majority of all SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Pac 10 schools. The same could and should be said about Iowa. Everybody in that corn belt state must be sitting on their John Deer with and Iowa tee shirt and a baseball cap on their body every day.

Again, there is a multi billion dollar illegal merchandise market out there that that these figures don’t show. Non licensed products that display the school’s mascot, symbols and trademarks flood the market each year and cost schools tens of millions of dollars.

So there it is sports fans. An educational piece to fill the void of a football void time. If you like these kinds of stories, let us know in the comment section or if you just want a 64th opinion of what a mock NFL draft will look like instead, let us know that too. Giving you what you want is what we’re all about.

Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter


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