Maybe Kansas Athletics should file a lawsuit against itself. In discussing the current controversy in the Kansas University athletic department on Thursday, Kansas Attorney General Stephen Six made an interesting point: “The challenge is you can’t operate like a private business when you have the University of Kansas name, the University of Kansas brand, and student-athletes as the people that are the main product you are producing.”
Ah, yes, the university “brand.” Kansas Athletics racked up $650,000 in legal fees last year defending KU’s brand against supposed infringement by Joe-College.com. A few T-shirts produced by Joe-College clearly misused registered trademarks of the university, like the Jayhawk. However, the vast majority of the T-shirts targeted in the KU lawsuit were there because they supposedly “diluted” the university brand by using slogans that reflected poorly on KU.
Which leads to the question: Exactly how has the current controversy surrounding Athletic Director Lew Perkins and other employees in the department reflected on KU? The university’s reputation and brand certainly have taken a hit in recent weeks as a result of the athletic department.
We won’t hold our breath waiting for this lawsuit to be filed, but the situation is dripping with irony. KU athletics officials should count themselves lucky that they managed to run Joe-College out of business when they did. They wouldn’t want to see the slogans the T-shirt shop would be churning out right now.