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Archive for Wednesday, February 2, 1994

COLLEGE SPIRIT ON CAR TAGS

February 2, 1994

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— A state legislator thinks this may be the year the Kansas Legislature approves special license plates for college sports fans.

Move over T-shirt vendors.

Kansas may soon be getting into the business of catering to college sports fans who can't get enough memorabilia for their favorite school.

And the benefits would go to student scholarship funds at the state's universities and community colleges.

A bill to be considered Thursday by the House Transportation Committee would allow the state to sell educational institution vehicle license plates featuring Jayhawks, Wildcats, Wheat Shockers or even Red Ravens.

"States around us have this. It's a way to show pride for your favorite university and help out someone to go to college," says the bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Don Rezac, D-Emmett.

The license plates, which would feature a school's mascot, would cost about $30 more than a regular tag, Rezac said.

About $5 of the extra $30 would go to the state to cover the added cost and about $2 to $3 would go to the college for its handling costs. The remaining money, about $22 for each plate, would be placed in a fund for general scholarship use, Rezac said.

The idea, which has the endorsement of KU Chancellor Gene Budig and James Martin, president of KU's Endowment Association, was originally brought up about four years ago, Rezac said.

At that time, Senate President Bud Burke, R-Olathe, a KU alumnus, endorsed the special plates. The bill became mired in the Senate Transportation Committee because of sentiment on the committee against personalized license tags, Rezac said.

However, in light of universities and colleges seeking more scholarship money, lawmakers may give the green light for the bill this time, Rezac said.

With the success of KU's basketball team and Kansas State University's football team, the demand for Jayhawk and Wildcat plates is expected to be high.

Rezac estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 plates could be sold by KSU and 16,000 to 20,000 plate could be sold to KU fans.

That would mean KU could net as much as $440,000 and about $220,000 could be kicked into KSU's scholarship fund from the special plates, he said.

"That may be a little high. It depends on how they're winning ball games that year," he said.

According to the bill, license plates could be generated with the mascots of any of the state's universities or community colleges. However, the schools must receive at least 500 applications for the special plates before the mascot plates can be issued, Rezac said.

Under the bill, motorists would apply to the schools for the special tags and would receive a coupon for the tag when they go to the courthouse to buy a license tag, he said. A new license tag would have to be purchased each year, he said.

Under the bill, the special license plates would be available after Jan. 1, 1995.

@reefer:* Should license plates emblazoned with collegiate mascots be issued in Kansas? Answer today's J-W Access question on page 2B.

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