As Jayhawk sports fans anticipate the start of another year, Kansas University officials look forward to the financial rewards brought on by the school's mascot.
"The only thing I ever hear is good things about it," said Mike Reid, licensing manager for the university. "I've heard people from around the country say they wish they had a mascot like ours."
KU's current mascot, the "Sandy" or "smiling Jayhawk," has been the university's registered trademark since 1978, Reid said.
Unlike some other schools, whose officials and fans are unhappy with the design or depiction of their mascot, "Sandy" remains popular with Jayhawk fans around the country, Reid said.
At Colorado State University in Fort Collins, for example, university officials are sponsoring a contest to draft a new look for CSU's "Cam the Ram" mascot. CSU officials say they and fans don't much like depictions of the ram that now are being used.
THE CURRENT Jayhawk depiction was created by Harold Sandy while he was a student at KU in the late 1940s.
The KU Bookstore bought the copyright for the design from Sandy in 1947 and owned it until the university obtained a federal trademark in 1978, Reid said.
Today, KU collects 7.5 percent in royalties of all sales of merchandise where the Jayhawk appears, including T-shirts, caps, cups, flags and tie pins.
Last year, KU collected about $307,000 in such royalties, Reid said.
About 35 percent of the royalties goes to the Williams Fund, which funds athletic scholarships, Reid said.
The remaining 65 percent goes to the KU Endowment Association, which uses the funds for other scholarships, he said.
SALES OF merchandise depicting the mascots of other schools have declined in recent years, Reid said, but sales of KU products continue to be strong.
He said officials usually notice an increase when KU athletic teams are doing well; sales of Jayhawk products soared during the team's drive for the national basketball championship in 1991.
"If we go to a bowl game (in football), that wouldn't hurt," Reid said.
In recent years permission to use the official Jayhawk has become somewhat restricted, Reid said, because many businesses have sought to use the mascot to sell their products.
"Any organization that wishes to use it has to get prior permission," he said. "A lot of people want to use it. I think we had some people who were playing off our good will, so we had to set up some restrictions."