No jerseys for U of T fans

Last Christmas I wanted to buy my cousin a U of T hockey jersey, just like the ones the men’s hockey team wears. A good idea, I thought, until I encountered one major problem: U of T doesn’t sell anything of the kind.

I couldn’t undertand why U of T wouldn’t sell jerseys, t-shirts, and sweatshirts of their sporting teams. It didn’t make any sense-NCAA schools have been doing it for years, and making lots of money in the process for their athletic programs. And maybe I’m only speaking for myself, but I’d be far more inclined to buy a U of T football t-shirt than just a plain old U of T shirt.

I wanted to know more about why U of T was not merchandising apparel for its athletic programs, so I spoke with Jennifer L. Jones, director of communications at the U of T’s Faculty of Phys Ed.

The biggest problem behind the lack of a U of T brand up to this point, explained Jones, was that “U of T did not have one logo for all the varsity teams…there were 17 million different logos, and there was no cohesiveness.”

After extensive designing, a new, uniform “T” logo has been created for all U of T teams. The “T” now has true colours-meaning an exact shade of blue and red-as well as a standard leaf. It is now used by all team uniforms and jerseys at the university.

I figured that now, with the “T” established, the school could start selling team merchandise. But apparently this process doesn’t happen overnight. For its athletic teams, the university deals with ten different vendors who supply the teams with their uniforms. There is still some co-ordination to be done, but plans are in the works to sell football, hockey, and basketball jerseys at the U of T bookstore soon.

Right now, the school is actively trying to figure out how all of the pieces fit. Jones told me that “there is no timetable for the release of the products, but the key is to make the prices reasonable for the students to purchase.”

The U of T bookstore has exclusive rights to sell the Varsity sports merchandise. But the school would like to have merchandising kiosks at the various sporting events. The revenue made from the selling of the merchandise would go back into the varsity athletic programs, and the money would be divided equally amongst all of the teams.

It seems as though U of T may finally be getting it right. It only makes sense to sell Varsity team merchandise-it would give teams added revenue and advertising, which could only help them in the long run. And maybe this year I can buy my cousin the U of T hockey jersey he’s been hankering for.

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