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Auburn Doubled Merchandise Royalties With National College Football Title

Auburn University more than doubled its royalties from licensed merchandise sales after winning college football’s national championship.

Merchandise royalties at Auburn, which beat the University of Oregon in January to win its first national title since 1957, surged to $5.3 million for 2010-11 from $2.5 million a year earlier, according to the Auburn, Alabama, school.

The haul helped Auburn climb to No. 4 from 15th in an annual list of top collegiate merchandise royalty earners released by the College Licensing Co., a division of IMG Worldwide. It’s a lofty ranking Auburn might keep even without on-field success this season, said Cory Moss, a vice president for Atlanta-based CLC.

“A championship is extremely valuable, as it obviously played a major role in Auburn jumping that high,” Moss said in a telephone interview. “We definitely anticipate a carryover not only just for the year after but throughout, because we’re continually trying to develop that brand and utilize the national championship to catapult them to the next level.”

The rankings cover royalties reported between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, by clients of CLC, which account for about 80 percent of the market. The company doesn’t represent every major-conference school, with Ohio State and Southern California among those not on its list.

The University of Texas said it earned $10.6 million in royalties in the last year, more than any other CLC school. Alabama ranked second, followed by Florida.

Ohio State took in $9.4 million in royalties, according to the Columbus, Ohio, school, while USC does not break out royalty revenue in its annual report.

Vince Young’s Legacy

Texas became CLC’s top-selling school in 2005-06 after Vince Young led the Longhorns to the national football championship. The school doubled its royalties because of the title, according to Craig Westemeier, an assistant athletic director, and has held onto the top spot in the retail arena even though it has failed to win another national championship.

“We’ve been able to continue to grow from what we thought was an apex of $8 million after that national championship year,” Westemeier said in a telephone interview.

Sales at the Austin, Texas, school benefit from its more than 400,000 living alumni and 50,000 students enrolled, as well as the size and population of the state, Westemeier said.

Industry sales have grown to $4.3 billion from $3.9 billion two years ago, according to Moss, whose company recently signed deals to sell apparel at Gap Inc. (GPS)’s Old Navy stores and Brooks Brothers stores.

Knights Apparel Tops

Spartanburg, South Carolina-based Knights Apparel Inc., which sells t-shirts and sweatshirts to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and campus bookstores, was the top college apparel licensee, followed by Nike Inc. (NKE) and headwear supplier Top of the World, according to CLC.

Video game maker EA Sports, a unit of Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS), topped the list of non-apparel licensees, followed by Wilson Sporting Goods Co., a unit of Finland’s Amer Sports Oyj (AMEAS), and Fabrique Innovations Inc.’s Sykel unit, which makes the Snuggie wearable blankets.

The Snuggies “were extremely big last year and that same company is also the manufacturer of the collegiate pillow pet, which newly hit stores,” Moss said.

Leading the local licensee category was University Co- Operative Society, an Austin-based manufacturer and retailer of Texas merchandise.

CLC’s TOP 20 LICENSED MERCHANDISE-SELLING UNIVERSITIES
======================================================
1. University of Texas, Austin
2. University of Alabama
3. University of Florida
4. Auburn University
5. University of Michigan
6. University of Georgia
7. University of Kentucky
8. University of North Carolina
9. Louisiana State University
10. Penn State University
11. University of Notre Dame
12. University of Oklahoma
13. University of Nebraska
14. University of Tennessee
15. University of Wisconsin
16. West Virginia University
17. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
18. University of Missouri
19. Texas A&M University
20. University of Kansas

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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