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In the money

Fueled by basketball and football titles, Florida is rising in the national rankings again, up to No. 3 in royalties.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published May 22, 2007


GAINESVILLE - Those national championship hats, T-shirts, flags and mugs are a symbol of more than just school pride for the University of Florida. Winning championships on the field has translated into big dollars for the university.

According to statistics compiled by the Collegiate Licensing Co., Florida jumped from No. 8 to No. 3 in royalties among the nation's colleges over the past year, much of which can be attributed to its football and basketball national championships.

On the heels of its victory over Ohio State in the BCS national football championship, Florida jumped from No. 5 to No. 3 based on royalties tabulated during the quarter from January through March.

Florida collected $2, 013, 237 in royalties during that period, money that is split equally between the athletic department and school's general fund.

During that same quarter last year, the university earned $457, 280. The increase places Florida behind only Texas and Notre Dame in royalty revenue, according to the CLC.

While Florida officials expected sales increases after the first basketball national championship and football title, the results exceeded expectations.

"That's huge, " said Debbie Gay, the director of licensing for the University Athletic Association, the administrative arm of the school's athletic department.

"When you win a national championship, you're expecting those numbers, but maybe not to that degree. The truth is you don't know exactly how much sales will increase. But you hope."

In 2005-06, Florida collected $3.2-million after its basketball championship, a record at the time. In the first nine months of this fiscal year, the university has earned $4.4-million in royalties, an increase of $1.2-million, Gay said.

Those numbers don't include money earned from the second basketball championship, which the Gators won after the quarter ended.

"Last year, we got about $500, 000 to $600, 000 additional from that basketball championship, " Gay said.

Because no school has ever won consecutive national basketball titles and a football title in the same year, Gay said there is no precedent by which to judge Florida's success. But in talking with her counterpart at Texas, which won a baseball national championship in the same year as a football championship, Gay said Florida's numbers are impressive.

When Texas won its 2005 football championship, the school moved up to No. 1 in the royalties rankings, which the CLC has compiled since 2000-01. North Carolina had held the top spot for five consecutive years.

"The momentum that winning championships carries for your program, you can't buy that kind of momentum, " Gay said. "It has been incredible. The last 18 months have been a whirlwind of activity."