University will retain licensing to Chief logo

10-year-old Jacqueline Johnson, left, points out a sweatshirt to her 6-year-old brother Noah in Gameday Sports at 519 E Green St, Champaign, Ill., Friday, March 30, 2007. Tracy Johnson drove her children down from Crystal Lake to buy Illini gear over the Adam Babcock

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Groceries, laundry, cover charge, pizza-many factors contribute to the image of the cash-strapped college student calling home for a few extra bucks from mom and dad. Dave Knapik, sophomore in AHS, soon plans to shell out some extra cash for a different expense: Chief Illiniwek merchandise.

“I’ll probably spend 150 bucks in the next two weeks,” said Knapik as he shopped at Follett’s bookstore, 627 S. Wright Street, on Saturday morning. “I’ve got two little brothers coming here, and we’ve been Illini fans our whole lives.”

Following the University’s announcement on Friday that retailers may not order any merchandise featuring the words “Chief” or “Chief Illiniwek” or the Chief symbol as of April 16, 2007, local store owners are gearing up for an increase in sales.

The University will retain the rights to the Chief Illiniwek logo. Any unauthorized merchandise will be considered a violation of the trademark. University spokesperson Robin Kaler said the University will “viciously protect” its rights to the logo.

“We did expect it. We didn’t think it would be this soon,” said Brian Paragi, assistant store manager at T.I.S. College Bookstore, 707 S. Sixth Street.

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Paragi said many students, faculty and alumni stocked up on Chief merchandise in February when the University announced Chief Illiniwek would no longer dance at University sporting events, but he still expects to see an increase in orders for Chief merchandise.

“The Board of Trustees directed us to end the use of Native American imagery as a symbol of the University. What we have determined is that the best course in maintaining that initiative is retaining the logo,” said Kaler.

John Lee, store manager at te’ shurt’, 711 S. Wright Street, said there was a “scare” after the February announcement. Now that there is an official deadline for selling the merchandise, Lee said the store would be able to order more merchandise to handle the expected increase in demand.

Lee said he expects an initial increase in sales following the University’s announcement, but the restriction on selling Chief merchandise will ultimately hurt the store financially. He estimated that 40 percent of the merchandise te’ shurt’ sells is Chief related.

“Our sales will go down,” Lee said. “There’s not as much you can do with a block I or the fighting Illini.”

Collegiate Licensing Company in Atlanta handles the University’s licensing. The company has already informed manufacturers of Chief merchandise that they cannot order additional merchandise after April 16, 2007. The University and the company must approve all orders shipped after that date, according to a letter sent to the licensees by Collegiate Licensing.

Kaler said the University has over 400 licensees, from Nike to Gameday Sports in Campustown.

December 31, 2007 is the cut-off for distribution or production of all Chief merchandise.

“By December 31, all manufacturers will have to have shipped all Chief merchandise out the door,” Kaler said.

Kanpik is not sure what he plans to buy in the upcoming weeks for himself and his family; he just knows he wants a piece of the Chief before the deadline hits.

“I’ll buy anything I can get my hands on,” Knapik said.

Check back with The Daily Illini throughout the weekend for updates.

Amanda Graf and Jonathan Wroble contributed to this report.