Opinion from OU Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications Kenny Mossman.
Two things took center stage as Oklahoma Athletics were discussed this summer.
First came the news that the athletics department was increasing the funding moving from its coffers to OU academic programs by $3 million, raising the direct and indirect support from athletics to a total of $7 million for the year.
Then, in a story that helped explain how an athletics program could become such a key player in academic programs, it was announced that Sooner fans had set records by renewing their football tickets at a 99% rate while raising the number of donors in the Sooner Club beyond the 10,000 mark.
Nothing beats loyalty, and rarely will you find a group as loyal as Sooner fans.
That holds true in the way many of those people support the program in another way -- the purchasing of licensed apparel and goods.
The athletics department receives an average of about 10% per sale of t-shirts, license plates, etc., if those items are officially licensed by OU and its partner, the College Licensing Company (CLC).
Items that are not licensed benefit only the person selling the merchandise while ignoring the program that made the item attractive for purchase in the first place.
OU derives approximately $3 million per year in licensing revenue, an important facet in maintaining financial solvency. Those who create and sell pirated merchandise rob the university of thousands of dollars annually, using the good name that the Sooner program has worked so hard to achieve, while ignoring any reimbursement to that very same program.
CLC sent out 400-500 cease-and-desist letters to illegal operations last year. About 10,000 pieces are seized each year at various collegiate games during the sports season. Because there are no price tags attached to those items, there is no accompanying dollar figure to show the loss, but using $15-$20 as an average price, that figure approaches a quarter-million dollars.
And that's only scratching the surface of the items that are on the market. Enforcement lags behind an aggressive black market. The OU Athletics Department is working with local law enforcement agencies to beef up enforcement, but even those increased efforts fall short of what the buying public could do to greatly reduce the problem.
Licensed merchandise carries a distinctive tag. If that hologram logo appears on an item, that item has been approved by Oklahoma and CLC and it will return a portion of the sale to OU.
As we embark on another school year of OU Athletics, we encourage fans to review the latest Sooner items now on the market. We also encourage you to join with us in combating a very real problem. There are some who would cheat the Sooner program, and in a roundabout way, its fans, and think nothing of it. We ask you to be loyal once again and purchase only those items that carry the hologram tag.
And if you spot violators, please, let us know by filling out our unlicensed product reporting form online.
an inside perspective from the OU
Athletics Department on the latest Sooner sports topics.
Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications Kenny
provides his thoughts in his online column