You’ve gotta imagine that Notre Dame, my alma mater, sells a lot of Fighting Irish T’s and keychains so I was interested when my friend NYFiancé tipped me off to this Bloomberg story excerpted below.
“Ten years after adopting the policy, Notre Dame remains the only major U.S. university that forbids license holders such as Adidas AG (ADS) to put the school logo on any product from China, according to groups that track college merchandising.
Notre Dame prohibits the goods because China, the top source of U.S. imports, doesn’t permit independent labor unions, according to a college policy document. The ban is attracting fresh attention from Washington lawmakers who say China has begun a renewed crackdown on dissidents.
“What Notre Dame is doing is very, very important,” Representative Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican and chairman of the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees trade, said in an interview. “China is a particularly bad place to do outsourcing, and the American people are totally opposed to it.”
College-branded products are a $4.3 billion-a-year business, according to Collegiate Licensing Co., which helps schools manage their trademarks. In its most recent rankings, Notre Dame was 11th in licensing revenue among almost 200 colleges tracked by the Atlanta-based unit of sports agency IMG Worldwide Inc.
The University of Texas tops the list with $10.15 million in revenue from licensing in the last fiscal year. Notre Dame doesn’t disclose how much it makes. Among leading suppliers are Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS), the video-game publisher, and Nike Inc. (NKE), the largest maker of athletic shoes.
Under pressure from students protesting conditions for workers sewing shirts or stitching soccer balls in nations such as Honduras and the Dominican Republic, about half of major universities in the past decade have adopted codes of conduct for suppliers of companies that license their brands, including Texas and Notre Dame, according to Collegiate Licensing.
Chinese-made products dominate U.S. consumer goods such as sports equipment, shoes and clothing. The nation sent $26.9 billion of toys and sports items, $16.7 billion of footwear and $33.5 billion of apparel to the U.S. in 2010, according to Commerce Department data.
Notre Dame said its policy on Chinese products is tied to workers’ conditions in the world’s most populous nation. A standards code adopted by the Catholic university in 1997 requires freedom of association and the “right for workers to organize and form independent labor unions of their own choosing.” It implemented the ban on Chinese products four years later.
Notre Dame’s requirements slow the introduction of products by about a year or result in higher prices because of steeper shipping costs or more convoluted transport channels, said Brian Finegan, manager for licensing and business development at a subsidiary of Jarden Corp. (JAH), a Rye, New York-based company that sells canopies, footballs and other sporting goods under brands such as Coleman and Rawlings.
Adidas signed a 10-year contract with Notre Dame in 2005, which the university said at the time would be valued at more than $60 million. Adidas, which provides the varsity teams with jerseys and footwear, complies with the prohibition on Chinese- made goods, said Lauren Lamkin, a company spokeswoman.”
A big thanks to NYFiancé for this lede.