On May 12, USC signed a 10-year licensing deal with Silver Star Merchandise (SSM) owned by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
USC’s brand is one of the most recognized in sports, and the Trojans are SSM’s first licensing deal. A deal with Ohio State is also being discussed.
This agreement includes the license, manufacturing and distribution of USC’s athletic apparel, although Nike will continue to supply the Trojan’s on-field uniforms (at least until the current contract ends).
The deal is more profitable for USC because SSM pays the school a greater amount of royalties.
"It is a perfect marriage," athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. "When we were presented with the opportunity to partner with Silver Star Merchandising, it became clear to us that their expertise in the apparel business with a top brand like the Dallas Cowboys meant that they would represent and shepherd our USC brand in the same manner throughout Southern California and the United States."
Many Trojan fans resent buying Nike USC apparel since a good portion of the profits that Nike generates flow to Phil Knight and he makes big donations to the University of Oregon Ducks.
Knight is believed to have contributed approximately $230 million to the University of Oregon, the majority for athletics including $100 million to the Athletics Legacy Fund which was the largest in the University’s history.
Some have referred to Knight as the benevolent “owner” of the Ducks football team, and he has unequaled access to Oregon sports including his own personalized locker in the football team’s locker room.
He lobbied to have his friend, Pat Kilkenny, named the athletic director even though he didn’t have a college degree or any germane experience. The previous AD, Bill Moos, was forced out four years ago. Knight has no problem using his money to force Oregon to do what he wants.
So, now given a choice for good quality USC apparel, it is hoped that USC fans will go with SSM products over Nike so USC athletic department will benefit instead of helping Oregon.
Pat Haden is a smart businessman. He would rather have a third party market USC’s brand without a potential conflict of interest and keep the money generated from being used against the Trojans.
This deal takes effect in the fall, just in time for Trojan fans to replace their Nike USC apparel including the ugly black jerseys.
Oh, and Nike, you can take your rivalry game uniform change ideas for USC against UCLA and shove it!