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The Power of the Logo

A group of USF students prepares to go watch the Bulls play basketball. They paint their faces green and gold, grab their pom-poms and head to the store to buy a $20 Bulls T-shirt. But do these students know that in addition to supporting their team on the court they are supporting their school monetarily by buying team merchandise?

Grace McQueen, director for the USF Bookstore, said for every item the Bookstore buys that carries a USF logo or insignia, a small portion of the money goes back to the university.

“We pay a licensing fee (for the logo) as does everyone that uses that logo,” she said.

In addition to the licensing fee required to use the logo, McQueen said every time the Bookstore wishes to sell merchandise with a new USF logo, it must pay an additional charge.

“If we go to a new vendor and we give them a new logo, we have to pay a setup fee for that logo,” she said.

McQueen said the Bookstore probably provides the largest selection of USF merchandise in the area.

According to USF Bookstore officials, about $500,000 is spent annually to keep the Bookstore stocked with USF merchandise. Of this, 7.5 percent is returned to the university in the form of the licensing fee. Therefore, the university earns $37,500 from the Bookstore alone every year.

Jeff Mack, director for Auxiliary Services, said the sale of the right to use USF logos is handled by an independent licensing agency. This company deals directly with companies that produce the merchandise, selling those manufacturers use of the logos.”They administer all of the contracts the university has with the manufacturers,” Mack said. “They pay us a percentage of the royalties they collect.”

Mack said the licensing agency charges the manufacturer the licensing fee. The manufacturer in turn adds this fee to purchases from retailers, where it eventually makes its way back to the consumer.

But once the money comes back to the university, the question remains as to how the university spends it.

Mack said the money is placed into a foundation for advancement at the university.

“Those moneys are used for a variety of activities for advancement,” Mack said. “In the past they were used for student scholarships and band scholarships.”

Mack said the amount of money returned to the university varies from year to year. He said recently the university has been earning annually in the $30,000-$40,000 range.

“That would increase if the athletic teams are doing well,” he said. “Our banner year was the first year we had football.”

During the first year of football, Mack said the university earned $90,000 in licensing fees. He said, however, that’s not indicative of normal trends.

“It dropped way off after that,” he said. “Now it’s starting to climb up again.”

Mack said the best way to increase the university’s income is to have more local stores selling USF merchandise. An increase in community demand, he said, would increase sales.

Mack said this has become easier, since many local sports shops are used to dealing with licensing fees for other local sports teams.

“Collegiate licensing is a pretty common occurrence now, so (stores) would contact manufacturers, or, if they have their own manufactures, they could suggest their manufacturers apply for a license,” he said.

Such an increase would be beneficial to the university. USF, therefore, has a big interest in how well it sells because there is a lot of money to be made in merchandise.

So the next time someone buys a $20 Bulls T-shirt, remember that $1.50 is going to USF.

  • Contact Rob Brannon at