12 Part Blog Description

Are you looking to learn as much as you can about the business of sports licensing? Then please read the 12 Part "An Insider's Guide to the World of Licensed Sports Products in 12 Parts: Practical Lessons from the Trenches" - all 12 parts of the blog can be found within this site. Click here to start with the Introduction.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Give me the NCAA scoop - what are the leading schools and who are the leading licensees?

Greeting folks!

This note is written by Scott Sillcox in early 2020 in response to a lot of readers asking me two questions:

A. You wrote and posted many of your blog postings several years ago, is the info still relevant today? Short answer - absolutely! The basics of sports licensing change very little over the years, so I strongly suggest that if you are trying to learn about sports licensing, read away! I have also tried to update certain areas where there have been significant changes, so I feel comfortable in telling you that this information is still highly relevant.

B. You mention that you are a consultant and might be able to help me, do you still do consulting? Short answer - absolutely. I work in the licensing field virtually every day of my life, so if you have questions or would like my help, contact me! The two primary ways I work are hourly telephone consulting ($175US/hour) and face-to-face meetings where I come right to your office for a full day ($1500US/day + $500 travel).

Many thanks and happy reading -
Scott Sillcox

================

Let's look at "NCAA" licensing a bit more.

This is March 2020 and I'm going to do something here that I have never done before - I initially wrote this blog posting in March of 2012, but enough has changed in NCAA licensing that I have re-written this entire blog posting but I have pasted the original blog below in case someone wanted to see what the scoop was in 2012.  But it's now 2020 so let me explain how things stand currently.

There are about 2500 colleges and universities in the US. Some people are tempted to call this “NCAA Licensing”, but the NCAA has a very specific meaning and doesn’t represent anywhere close to all 2500 schools, so you are best to use the expression “US college licensing”, not “NCAA licensing”.

In the grand scheme of things, there are effectively:
A. Five licensing bodies for US colleges and universities
and
B. One licensing body for the actual NCAA

Let's not lose too much sleep over the companies that are licensed by the NCAA itself - I don't want to sound too controlling but those licensees aren't doing a large volume of NCAA-related sales, ie not many products are sold that feature the circular blue NCAA logo. So let me focus on the schools themselves.

There are 2500-ish colleges and universities in the US. And for those 2500+ schools, there are five licensing "bodies":

1. A company called CLC (which initially stood for Collegiate Licensing Company) which represents 700-ish US colleges and universities as well as numerous Bowl Games, Conferences and other misc entities in the college realm. As you can see in the logo below, CLC is the result of a merger that was finalized in very late 2018 between two companies - Learfield and IMG College - but we aren't going to focus on that. What is important to know is that most (but certainly not all) of the "Top 200" schools in the US are repped by CLC including 100+ of the 130-ish FBS schools.



2. A company called Fermata College which was founded in 2014 and represents a handful of major US colleges and universities. When I say a handful, I mean just that - they represent six schools (it used to be seven, but now six after Virginia left the fold). Their six schools are: The University of Georgia, the University of Kentucky, the University of Miami, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin. Fermata's founders were former CLC employees.


3. A company called Exemplar Associates, LLC which was founded in 2016 and represents a handful of schools - 7 as of March 2020. Their schools are: Columbia University, Cornell University, The College of the Holy Cross, University of Pennsylvania, Saint Anselm College, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Wyoming. Exemplar's founder was a former Learfield employee.



4. A company called Affinity Licensing, best known for being the leading "Greek" licensor (ie fraternities and sororities), now represents 13 colleges including Appalachian State, Kent State and Georgia State.


5. For the other 1800-ish US college and universities that have chosen not be part of CLC or Fermata or Exemplar or Affinity, the licensing is done directly by the school. Think of these 1800-ish schools as "Independents".


CLC and their 700+ schools clearly represent the lion's share of the market in terms of the highest sales volume schools - I don't know this for a fact but I think it would be safe to say that CLC would have 175 of the Top 200 schools as measured by sales of licensed products and therefore royalties returned to the school (CLC does not represent independents Ohio State, USC or Indiana, but a high percentage of the other biggies).

Elsewhere in my blog (Part 1 of the 12 Part Series) I have talked a fair bit about keeping things in perspective, and I'm going to ask you to play along vis a vis some "NCAA" perspective.

First of all - what is the #1 University in terms of sales of licensed product / royalties generated for the school? Hint: They have been in the top 5 for the last decade or more.

And the answer is: The University of Texas at Austin, aka Texas. If you guessed Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame or Georgia, those would have been great guesses as well.

Next question - what annual royalties did The University of Texas at Austin likely earn in 2019? Got a figure? Don't look below - just take a guess.

If you guessed $76.4 million, you are not correct. Nor are you right with a guess of $52.9 million. $34.3 million? Nope. How about a cool $22 million? Nope. The answer is Texas likely realized somewhere around $15 million in royalties from the sale of its merchandise over the Jan 1, 2019 to Dec 31, 2019 period (I hope you realize I put those other numbers there in case you wanted to guess but inadvertently glanced below for the answer).

My guess is that your guess was higher than $15 million - I'm thinking you might have guessed $30 or $40 or $50 million. But the truth of the matter is just that - the number one school in all of America generated approximately $15,000,000 in annual royalties in 2019. That's a lot money of course, but not an ungodly sum. And that's really my point - keep things in perspective if you can . The number one school in America didn't even generate enough money to cover the $20 million 2019 buyout of former head football coach Tom Herman. Or put another way, Texas' $15 million of royalties was able to nicely cover the nearly $8 million in salaries paid to the assistant football coaches with a bit left over for the new head football coach.

I also find it interesting that the $15 million figure is VERY close to what each NFL team receives as their equal share of the sale of NFL licensed merchandise - in the NFL's case each team likely received approximately $13,000,000 for the 2019 season.

If the Texas figure really surprises you by how low it is, you might want to read this blog where I try to describe in layperson's terms what's going on.

But the point of this blog isn't to put you through a quiz or embarrass you, what I wanted to do is explain the structure of collegiate licensing and prepare you in case you are interested in entering the world of collegiate licensing.

There are two things I'd like to make sure you understand.
1. What I mean when I say "CLC (or Fermata or Exemplar) represents a school"
2. CLC and school rankings

Here goes...

1. When I say "CLC represents a school", I mean that CLC and the school have signed a multi-year agreement that gives CLC permission to represent the school on the licensing front. Let's use LSU as an example (a blue chip example). Instead of LSU having to have an entire licensing staff of 10-15-20 people, CLC handles it on their behalf and LSU just needs a Licensing Director and perhaps an assistant or two. LSU has roughly 500 licensees, and CLC handles all the paperwork, all of the product quality control and the collection of royalties.

Let's assume those 500+ LSU licensees generated annual sales (mostly wholesale sales, but certainly some direct-to-consumer sales as well) of $90,000,000 worth of products. At an average royalty rate of 14%, that means those 500 licensees likely generated roughly $12,000,000 in royalties (vs Texas and their $15 million). CLC collects those royalties on behalf of LSU. CLC would then keep something like 10-15% of the royalties as payment for their services, and the university receives the 85%-90% balance. So LSU would receive a check for $10.5 million from CLC. Almost exactly enough to pay head football coach Ed Orgeron and his full staff of assistant coaches.

Now let's say you are interested in applying to CLC for licenses from 10-15 different schools that they represent. You apply to CLC, not to the school, and you apply online. It's a convoluted application, very much in need of a cleanup, but nonetheless, the point is that you apply to CLC, not to the school. CLC reviews the application, and then they forward it along with a recommendation to approve/not to approve to the school's Licensing Director. The Licensing Director makes the final call, but generally he/she is going to accept CLC's recommendation.

So your real connection to LSU is through CLC and you have very little to do with LSU. You submit your license application to CLC,. You submit your QC requests (ie product approval requests) to CLC. You send your sales and royalties reports to CLC. You send your royalty payments to CLC.

That's what I mean when I say a school is "repped" by CLC (or Fermata or Exemplar or Affinity). If a school is independent, then you deal directly with the school. For larger independent schools (Ohio State, USC, Indiana), they have a full fledged licensing staff of 10-20 people. For smaller schools, the Licensing Director is not only the only person involved with licensing, he/she might have several job titles and only does licensing part of the time.


2. I wanted to share some info about US college "rankings" in case it helps you make business decisions. But I need to explain a few things...

Prior to the above mentioned late 2018 merger between IMG College Licensing and Learfield, IMG College used to be called CLC/The Collegiate Licensing Company and they represented roughly 150 schools (don't believe the figures of 200 or 250 - that's a stretch). And in the 2000's and first half of the 2010's, CLC published wonderful annual and quarterly rankings listing the Top 75 of THEIR schools and the Top 25 hardgoods and softgoods licensees. This was terrific information and CLC is to be commended for publishing those stats. But around 2015, CLC stopped publicly issuing their annual and quarterly rankings. Why? I'm going to guess it had a lot to do with their then-competitor Learfield and not wanting to serve up too much info to a competitor. There were no doubt other reasons but competitor Learfield certainly played a large factor.

My point is that the latest stats I have are from 2015-16, and what you need to keep in mind is the stats only represent the 150-ish schools that CLC represented at the time. The stats do not reflect the current roster of 700+ CLC schools, and they certainly don't factor in the universe of 2500+ US colleges and universities.

So rather than do you a mis-service, here in 2020 I am not going to publish five year old stats that don't really represent the US college marketplace. That being said, if you'd like a spreadsheet showing CLC's school and licensee rankings and info from 2010 to 2016-ish, send me a quick email with the header "I'd like the CLC sales info spreadsheet".

If CLC is reading this blog posting, how about going back to publishing your annual rankings? It would be a great service for many shapes and sizes of people.

If you are trying to determine the "Top 200" schools in terms of sales of licensed product, I'd suggest you start with the 130 FBS Schools and then add to that 30-50 D1 basketball schools that don't have football and then add a few outliers. I'm a consultant and if you really are anxious for this and other rankings-style info, contact me and I can help. I don't have all the answers, but more than the average bear.

And as I have written before, if you want to look up some information on some or all of the leading licensees, please note that we have a terrific, searchable Online Directory of 2500+ North American Licensed Sports Products Companies - it’s called LicensedSports.net and it can be found at that same address and costs just $59 to use for three months. This is a highly searchable directory of licensed sports products companies in North America, companies that have been licensed by various sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, MLS, NASCAR, NFLPA, MLBPA, NHLPA and others). There is nothing on the internet that comes close to this resource, and I update the database weekly, sometimes daily. So please take advantage of this resource and "Search Away". If you're not sure if this database would be worth the investment, check out this 3 minute video that gives you a sense of what to expect.

I'm here to help, so if you have any sports product licensing questions, please contact me. And please note that I am a consultant to existing licensees and entrepreneurs wishing to become licensees. I am a good listener and I'd love to help if I can.

Thanks!
Scott


================

As mentioned above, I initially wrote this blog posting in March 2012. A lot has changed in the US college licensing marketplace since that time. So above the dotted line, you will see my new posting that I wrote in March 2020. And below, please find the original blog posting from 2012 with a couple minor updates done in 2015 and 2017.

Here goes..

Let's look at 2012-ish "NCAA" licensing a bit more.
Remember, in the grand scheme of things, there are effectively:
A. Five licensing bodies for NCAA schools/products
and
B. One licensing body for the actual NCAA

Let's not lose too much sleep over the companies which are licensed by the NCAA itself - I don't want to sound heavy handed but those licensees aren't doing a large volume of NCAA-related sales. What I want to do is focus in on the schools themselves. For the schools, the four licensing "bodies" are:

1. A company called Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) which represents 200-ish US colleges and universities.

2. A company called Licensing Resource Group (LRG) which represents another 200-ish other US colleges and universities.

3. A company called Strategic Marketing Affiliates (SMA) which represents another 200-ish US colleges and universities.


4. A new company called Fermata College which represents a handful of major US colleges and universities.


5. For the other 2000-ish US college and universities that have chosen not be part of CLC or LRG or SMA or Fermata, the licensing is done directly by the school.

Now out of CLC and LRG and SMA and Fermata, CLC clearly has the lion's share of the market in terms of the highest sales volume schools - I don't know this for a fact but I think it would be safe to say that CLC would have 25 of the the Top 30 schools as measured by sales of licensed products and therefore royalties returned to the school (CLC does not represent Ohio State or USC, but represents most of the other biggies).

Elsewhere in my blog (Part 1 of the 12 Part Series) I have talked a fair bit about keeping things in perspective, and I'm going to ask you to play along vis a vis some NCAA perspective.

First of all - which is the #1 University in terms of sales of licensed product / royalties generated for the school? Hint: They have been 1st for the last six years.

And the answer is: The University of Texas at Austin, aka Texas.

Next question - what annual royalties did The University of Texas at Austin earn in the year July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011? Got a figure? Don't look below - just take a guess.

If you guessed $76.4 million, you are not correct. Nor are you right with a guess of $42.9 million. $24.3 million? Nope. How about a cool $16 million? Nope. The answer is Texas realized slightly more than $10.6 million in royalties from the sale of its merchandise over the July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011 period (I hope you realize I ut those other numbers there in case you wanted to guess but inadvertantly glanced below for the answer).

My guess is that your guess was higher than $10.6 million - I'm thinking you might have guessed $20 or $30 or $40 million. But the truth of the matter is just that - the number one school in all of America generated a little more than $10,000,000 in annual royalties. That's a lot money of course, but not an ungodly sum. And that's really my point - keep things in perspective if you can . The number one school in America generates barely enough royalty revenue to pay a quality starting MLB pitcher's annual salary, or in NCAA terms, the half of all the licensing royalties earned by UT go to pay the salary of their head football coach. Yikes.

I also find it almost eery that the $10.6 million figure is VERY close to what each NFL team receives as their share of the sale of NFL licensed merchandise - in the NFL's case each team might be receiving approximately $9,000,000 each.

If the Texas figure really surprises you, you might want to read this blog where I try to describe in layperson's terms what's going on.

But the point of this blog isn't to put you through a quiz or embarrass you, what I wanted to do is share some of the CLC rankings in case it helps you make business decisions. Maybe you would like to become a collegiate licensee but it makes sense for you to partner up with an existing licensee - these lists can point out some potential partners. Or maybe you are trying to figure out what schools to pursue vis a vis licensing - in that case the school list might be a big help.

Thus please find three different rankings of CLC schools for the July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013 period (I updated this in the fall of 2013):
1. A listing of the Top 75 Schools in terms of royalties earned for the school
2. A listing of the Top 25 "Non-apparel" licensees (I might call these Hardlines Licensees). Non-apparel sales account for 30-40% of the total sales.
3. A listing of the Top 25 "Apparel" licensees (I might call these Softgoods Licensees). Apparel sales account for 60-70% of the total sales.


1. A listing of the Top 75 Schools in terms of royalties earned for the school (CLC schools only, 2012-13 period)
1. The University of Texas at Austin
2. The University of Alabama
3. University of Notre Dame
4. The University of Michigan
5. University of Kentucky
6. Louisiana State University
7. University of Florida
8. University of Georgia
9. University of North Carolina
10. The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
11. The University of Oklahoma
12. Texas A&M University
13. University of Wisconsin
14. University of Nebraska
15. University of Tennessee
16. University of South Carolina
17. West Virginia University
18. Auburn University
19. The Pennsylvania State University
20. University of Missouri
21. Florida State University
22. The University of Kansas
23. Oklahoma State University
24. Clemson University
25. University of Louisville
26. Texas Tech University
27. Virginia Tech
28. University of Illinois
29. The University of Arizona
30. Arizona State University
31. Syracuse University
32. UCLA
33. University of Washington
34. Duke University
35. Purdue University
36. University of Utah
37. University of Miami
38. Boise State University
39. Oregon State University
40. University of Minnesota
41. University of California, Berkeley
42. Stanford University
43. Washington State University
44. The University of Mississippi
45. University of Maryland
46. Texas Christian University
47. The University of Virginia
48. University of Cincinnati
49. Brigham Young University
50. University of Colorado
51. Georgia Institute of Technology
52. University of Pittsburgh
53. University of Connecticut
54. East Carolina University
55. University of Montana
56. Boston College
57. State University of New Jersey
58. Vanderbilt University
59. Georgetown University
60. U.S. Military Academy
61. University of Central Florida
62. University of Wyoming
63. University of South Florida
64. University of Nevada
65. University of New Mexico
66. The University of Memphis
67. Northwestern University
68. Texas State University- San Marcos
69. Fresno State
70. Louisiana at Lafayette
71. Colorado State University
72. Marshall University
73. Gonzaga University
74. James Madison University
75. Montana State University


A listing of the Top 25 "Non-apparel" licensees (CLC schools only, 2012-13 period)
1. EA Sports
2. Wilson Sporting Goods Co.
3. The Northwest Company LLC
4. Teams Beans
5. Commemorative Brands Inc. dba Balfour
6. Tervis Tumbler Company
7. Logo Chiar Inc.
8. Fabrique Innovations Inc.dba Sykel
9. Wincraft Inc.
10. Herff Jones Inc.
11. Jenkins Enterprises
12. Rico Industries/ Tag Express
13. Evergreen Enterprises of Virginia LLC
14. Upper Deck Company Inc.
15. Rawling Sporting Goods
16. Renaissance Imports
17. Jostens Inc.
18. Spirit Products Ltd./MA
19. Concept One Accessories
20. Thirty-One Gifts LLC
21. Russell Stover Candies
22. Scentsy Inc.
23. Boelter Brands LLC
24. The Memory Company
25. Stockdale


A listing of the Top 25 "Apparel" licensees (CLC schools only, 2012-13 period)
1. NIKE USA Inc.
2. Knights Apparel Inc.
3. Gear for Sports
4. Sports Licensed Division of the adidas Group
5. Top of the World
6. Colosseum Athletics Corporation
7. Outerstuff Ltd.
8. Twins Enterprise Inc.
9. College Concepts LLC
10. VF Imagewear Inc. (Section by Majestic)
11. Haddad Brands
12. Russell Brands LLC
13. J. America
14. 5th & Ocean Clothing LLC
15. MJ Soffe LLC
16. JanSport division of VF Outdoor Inc.
17. Lakeshirts Inc. dba Blue 84
18. T-Shirt International Inc.
19. New Era Cap Co. Inc.
20. Columbia Sportswear
21. New Agenda
22. Tailgate Clothing Co. dba T-University
23. New World Graphics
24. Cutter & Buck
25. Zephyr Graf-X

Here also is six years of the same data - not too much changes from one year to the next, but there are larger numbers of changes over a six year period.

Please note: I update this information every year, so if you'd like a spreadsheet showing the latest CLC info compared to previous years, send me a quick email - ssillcox@rogers.com with the header "I'd like the latest CLC sales info spreadsheet".

If you want to look up some information on some or all of the licensees listed above, please note that we have launched a terrific, searchable Online Directory of 1500+ North American Licensed Sports Products Companies - it’s called LicensedSports.net and it can be found at that same address and costs just $59 to use for three months. This is a highly searchable directory of licensed sports products companies in North America, companies that have been licensed by various sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA, MLS, Nascar, NFLPA, MLBPA, NHLPA and others). There is nothing on the internet that comes close to this resource, and I update the database weekly, sometimes daily. So please take advantage of this resource and "Search Away". If you're not sure if this database would be worth the investment, check out this 3 minute video that gives you a sense of what to expect.

I'm here to help, so if you have any sports product licensing questions, please contact me. And please note that I am a consultant to existing licensees and entrepreneurs wishing to become licensees. I am a good listener and I'd love to help if I can.

Thanks!
Scott

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Thank you for taking the time to add a comment - all input is welcome, especially the constructive kind! All the best - Scott