In a recent list released by College Licensing Co., a division of IMG Worldwide, Kentucky has moved up to the number three spot in the list of total collegiate merchandising royalty earners. They remain behind only Texas and Alabama in annual royalties, with a total growth of 40% from 2011 to 2012. This rise in earnings clearly demonstrates the power of the Big Blue Nation and their unending support for Kentucky athletics.
Kentucky moved from the seventh spot on the list last year to their current perch in the top three, increasing the royalties from $4.8 million to $6.7 million in 12 months. “The basketball championship is obviously the key driver,” The CLC’s Cory Moss told Bloomberg News. “The size of Kentucky’s alumni, student population and fan base, and their long tradition of basketball success certainly helped as well.”
Although Kentucky’s spot in the top ten is no surprise to those who follow basketball, it’s actually quite peculiar. The list of top earners is almost exclusively held by what are typically considered football schools. The top spot belongs to Texas, followed by Alabama, Michigan, LSU, Georgia, Notre Dame, Auburn, Oklahoma, and more. The only universities cracking the top ten which have notable basketball programs are Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida.
In other words, football merchandising dominates the landscape, but Kentucky still manages to out-earn major programs without a significant football presence. It’s a clear indication that when it comes to Basketball, Kentucky is the king of the castle, severely out-selling other programs by a huge margin. Getting precise numbers on the amount of basketball- versus football-driven sales is likely impossible, but it’s not hard to imagine 90% or more of UK’s merchandising sales being inspired by the basketball program. As if the championship wasn’t enough indication, Kentucky certainly stands alone at the top of college basketball.
There’s little doubt in my mind that Kentucky’s fanbase is one of the nation’s largest, and certainly the nation’s most fanatic. As an unfortunate resident of Illinois, it’s always astounding to cross the river into Paducah and be welcomed by a sea of blue shirts that simply doesn’t exist back home, nor in any other state with a major collegiate presence. It wouldn’t be surprising if Kentucky continues to climb up the list and takes the top spot by the end of the Calipari era.
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About the Author: Corey Tincher is a lifelong Kentucky fan and professional writer who couldn't keep the two worlds apart. He is the lead contributor for StraitCats.com and literally wrote the book on the 2012 NCAA Tournament Championship run, Big Blue Articles: Kentucky Basketball in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Follow @Corey_Tincher on Twitter for more Kentucky news and discussion.