UF to make cool cash off hot sports merchandise


Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 11:41 p.m.

After all the chomping and cheering, Gator fans go shopping. And that means another cool million or more for the University of Florida athletic department.

A school the size of the UF will generate tens of millions of dollars in sales of clothing and merchandise for winning a football championship, according to Heath Price of the Collegiate Licensing Co. The University Athletic Association can expect $1 million to $2 million in royalties from gear licensed by the CLC.

For every $10 championship T-shirt, about 60 cents goes back to UF. That's based on 12 percent royalties on wholesale costs to UF for BCS championship gear.

A T-shirt that costs $5 wholesale will be marked up to about $9.99, according to Bill Olander of Gators Plus on University Avenue.

The Bowl Championship Series gets an additional 3 percent royalty. UF normally gets 8.5 percent wholesale royalties from 550 licenses.

Last year, the University of Texas made $8.2 million in royalties at 12 percent of nine-figure sales, Price said.

Collegiate licensed merchandise is a $3 billion annual business, according to the CLC.

Price, who oversees licensing for 10 Southeastern Conference schools, is in Gainesville with two staffers this week to enforce sales licensing and see if there's anything licensees can do better.

He said he's encountered only licensed merchandise in Gainesville so far. Licensees range from big companies like Nike, Champion and Russell to local screenprinters.

The CLC reports that nearly 5,000 pieces of counterfeit collegiate merchandise is seized outside the host stadium of the BCS title game each year. All officially licensed merchandise should display the "Officially Licensed Collegiate Products" hologram on the product or tag.

Olander said Tuesday afternoon that his store has been "busy, busy, busy." He had some shirts announcing a Gator championship late Monday afternoon, before game time, and was open until 2:00 to 2:30 a.m. after the game. More championship shirts arrived Tuesday morning.

"One of the unique things about Florida and this fan base is they support the brand," Price said. "You cannot go anywhere and not see blue and orange. We've been out for the last 24 hours and everywhere we go — and it doesn't matter the age of the consumer — they're wearing their Florida product."

For local retailers, the championship is like a second Christmas, said Brent Christensen, president of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. A welcome celebration Saturday also provides another opportunity for local businesses to benefit from visiting Gator fans.

UF stands to make about $3 million from all SEC bowl appearances. The SEC and 12 member schools equally divide $40 million after expenses for nine bowl games. But between expenses to the title game and bonuses to coaches, that money has been spent.

The BCS pays $14 million to $17 million per school for the title game, with UF's share divided by 13 — $1.1 million each after expenses. UF receives $1.84 million for expenses from the overall payout, plus $300,000 for travel. UF's expenses for the game were expected to be $2.5 million and $2.7 million. UF coaches will receive $600,000 in bonuses for winning the championship.

The game also stands to benefit the community in general, Christensen said. "You've got a basketball and football team on top of their NCAAs — that will certainly bring a lot of recognition to the school and a lot of recognition to the community as well. I'm sure the school and the chamber will look to benefit from that for a long time to come."

Anthony Clark can be reached at anthony.clark@gvillesun.com or (352) 374-5094.

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