NCAA Merchandise Licensing Brings KU Money During Sweet 16

The University of Kansas basketball team is part of the Sweet 16, which means out-of-town vendors are expected to head to Topeka soon to sell shirts, caps and other merchandise. KU.

But these peddlers must first obtain a vendor’s license from the Topeka city government.

And any Jayhawk-related items they sell must be licensed by the NCAA and the University of Kansas, says Paul Vander Tuig, who has run KU’s licensing program for 29 years.

Vander Tuig recalled how vendors set up tables and began selling unlicensed t-shirts outside a nearby Kwik store as a parade was underway in April 2008 in Lawrence to celebrate the championship national KU of KU.

Vander Tuig approached these vendors, along with KU’s licensing agent.

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He said it became clear that vendors were going to be asked to leave and/or return their goods without a license, they jumped into their van and drove off, leaving behind their t-shirts, tables, chairs and even their lunch.

Look for the hologram

Companies wishing to create NCAA tournament-related products must first obtain approval from the NCAA and relevant school licensing departments, Vander Tuig said.

Its job is to approve the use of any KU-related word or symbol, be it a poster, t-shirt, cap or bumper sticker, he told the Capital-Journal.

Companies send Vander Tuig hundreds of different designs before and during the tournament, and many changes need to be made for approval, he said.

“Others are not approved at all,” he said.

All merchandise that is officially licensed and has been properly reviewed by the NCAA and the university will bear an “officially licensed” hologram or label, Vander Tuig said.

“If someone is selling unlabeled merchandise with college or NCAA references on a street corner or in a parking lot and it’s not properly labeled, that’s a great indication that the merchandise is potentially infringing and illegal,” he said. “Legitimate licensees will always put ‘officially licensed’ holograms or labels on their product.”

Royalties pay off big for KU

The University of Kansas has about 400 companies licensed to produce KU-specific merchandise, while the NCAA has 39, five of which are based in Kansas, Vander Tuig said.

These include branded custom sportswear, Champion custom products, sports equipment, Triform custom apparel and Winning Streak Sports, he said.

In KU’s 2007-2008 NCAA basketball championship year, total royalties were approximately $2.5 million for all KU-licensed products, including NCAA tournament royalties, said Vander Tuig.

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“Not all of that number was directly attributed to NCAA tournament merchandise sales, but it was definitely a major factor,” he said.

The retail landscape has “changed quite a bit” since 2008, so it’s hard to judge what winning an NCAA title would mean now strictly in terms of royalties, Vander Der Tuig said.

These are the NCAA related royalty rates

The NCAA’s royalty rate for use of its marks alone is 12%, rising to 20% when the NCAA and school marks are on the same product, Vander Tuig said.

“In this case, the NCAA would receive 8% of that 20% and the schools would split the remaining 12%,” he said. “For example, a Final Four t-shirt with ‘NCAA Final Four’ and four institutional logos – the NCAA would receive 8% and each school would receive 3%.”

While 3% per school might not seem like much, “everything works out” because NCAA Final Four merchandise is sold to other fanbases, Vander Tuig said.

“We wouldn’t normally get a royalty on the product in Spokane, Washington, but if Gonzaga (who is there) is on a Final Four jersey with Kansas and two other teams, we get a portion of those sales from our normal market,” he said.

When a team wins a national title, the total royalty paid on items is 27%, 20% of which goes to the school and 7% to the NCAA, Vander Tuig said.

Out-of-town vendors pay $10 a day for a permit to sell KU goods here

Various vendors have historically set up shop to sell merchandise on street corners and in parking lots in Topeka whenever the area’s college or professional sports teams are about to win a championship.

The Topeka city government charges these vendors $10 a day to acquire a passing vendors license, which is valid each day they are in business here, City Clerk Brenda Younger said.

Temporary sellers must have written permission from the owner or tenant of the private property at the site where they are set up, said Gretchen Spiker, the city’s communications director.

These vendors are only allowed to do business between 8 a.m. and midnight, she added.

Walk-in vendors are not permitted to disrupt the room, obstruct traffic, or erect any structure or tent totaling more than 120 square feet, per city ordinance.

They are also prohibited from doing business within 50 feet of any driveway entrance or public street access to an existing business.

Additionally, the city ordinance requires these vendors to allow law enforcement officers or other city employees to enter and inspect their business.

Tim Hrenchir can be reached at [email protected] or 785-213-5934.