By Thomas Scott
Guest Contributor HBCUSports.com
Budget. Revenue. Income. By now we all have heard the same tired narrative surrounding these terms. We get it. Many HBCU athletic departments are struggling financially; however there may be a solution.
The market for collegiate apparel is booming. It generates $4.6 billion in sales and has some 60 million minority fans. Typically colleges, athletic conferences and some sporting events rely on licensing companies to protect, promote and grow their brands. These companies specialize in everything from creating product designs to placing apparel in distribution channels.
The largest of these companies, the CLC (Collegiate Licensing Company), is responsible for 80% of the market share and has paid its partners more than $1.5 billion in royalties. Cory Moss, managing director of CLC, explains the importance of these figures. “When [these companies] are targeting colleges well, they’re targeting a younger demographic that will grow up with their brand.”
Has a younger demographic been properly introduced to HBCU brands via apparel? One simple answer…no.
Of the CLC’s 200 clients, only six are HBCUs (Florida A&M, Howard, Morgan State, Tuskegee, Grambling State, and Southern). Two other licensing companies, License Resource Group and Strategic Marketing Affiliates, have a total of 23 HBCU clients. This means that only 29 HBCUs are conducting business with the top licensing agencies. Without the support of these agencies, many HBCU alumni and fans can only find their team’s apparel when visiting their campus bookstore or attending homecoming. Even worse, many are left to buy non-licensed HBCU apparel in which the schools collect no royalties. Failing to pair with licensing companies could be the reason many HBCUs limit the reach of their brand. It’s a strategy which doesn’t make much sense in today’s marketplace.