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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Windfall For Longhorns

AUSTIN -- The University of Texas can add another national title: first in merchandising.

Bolstered by a national football championship, UT led the nation in licensing revenue and set a record with $8.2 million in royalties from 2005-06, according to the company that handles merchandise licensing for 82 Division I-A schools.

The record sales mark the first time UT has been first in royalties, knocking North Carolina from No. 1 for the first time in five years.

"It's kind of that perfect storm, and we were able to capitalize on it," said Craig Westemeier, UT director of trademark licensing. "Everything had to go just right, and it did."

Michigan held the previous record of $6.2 million in 1993-94, set during the school's "Fab Five" basketball era that included NBA star Chris Webber.

Michigan finished second to Texas, according to Collegiate Licensing Co. Notre Dame, Georgia and North Carolina rounded out the top five.

Schools that use other licensing companies or are independent include Ohio State, Southern California and Texas A&M. Revenues from those schools were not included in the rankings.

Besides the Longhorns' first football title since 1969, a College World Series in 2003 also helped boost royalties by 103 percent. The money goes to entire university and not just the athletic department because the school owns the trademarks.

T-shirts were the top-sellers for UT, followed by hats. After the Longhorns beat USC in the Rose Bowl, the school's 450 licensees sold everything from key chains to mini football helmets to a Waterford crystal football. Even coach Mack Brown's photo on the Wheaties cereal box brought in money.

UT's standard royalty rate is 8 percent of each licensed item sold and 12 percent on national championship items.

Derek Eiler, chief operating officer for the Collegiate Licensing Co., said pent-up demand fueled sales since UT hadn't won a football championship in more than 30 years.

"The fan is the guy who'll buy six Longhorn shirts," said Eiler. "Then, there's fashion. Carolina had it with Carolina blue and the Michael Jordan thing. Texas happens to be experiencing that now, people think the Longhorn logo is cool."


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