Penn State sports merchandising down 40%, experts say
In a State College, Pennsylvania, storefront, a T-shirt reads "Coach Paterno - Only One Thing: Thank You." Sales of Penn State memorabilia are down.
November 21st, 2011
02:11 PM ET

Penn State sports merchandising down 40%, experts say

Sales of Penn State sports merchandise are down about 40%, sports analysts and marketers say, and the typical antidote – winning – does not apply this time.

“Winning is the ultimate driver of team sales,” said Brian Swallow, vice president of business development at Fanatics LLC, a sports merchandiser.

“I think that while it’s the last thing on anyone’s mind right now as we’re all concerned about the victims (of the child sex scandal) and their families, Penn State merchandise sales will rebound as soon as the university has a clearly communicated direction and its alumni and fans are ready to move past this terrible situation.”

And that will take some time, analysts say.

Former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is accused of sexually molesting eight boys he befriended through his charity. In an interview last week with NBC’s Bob Costas, Sandusky denied the charges and insisted he is not a pedophile.

Jerry Sandusky's 'make-believe world'

The scandal has taken an obvious toll on the alleged victims and their families and communities, but the collateral damage has also been extensive: Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in Division 1 college football, was fired, sparking a student riot. Penn State’s President Graham Spanier also lost his job, and two administrators face criminal charges.

Across the nation the impact can be felt at cash registers at large and small sports retailers as consumers turn away from Penn State’s dark royal blue jerseys. "We are seeing similar drop-offs across all categories," Swallow said. "All (Penn State) apparel and merchandise, including T-shirts, fleece, women and kids, collectibles, etc."

And make no mistake, the monetary loss is significant. NCAA-branded merchandising is a $4 billion business, with Penn State pulling in about $80 million per year in sales, according to Matt Powell, an analyst with SportsOneSource, a sports research organization.

Former FBI director to lead Penn State sex abuse inquiry

Winning on the field usually means winning at the bank as well. The college football Bowl Championship Series title-holder usually is tops in the sale of merchandising for the year. Swallow said the University of Texas was No. 1 for the past few years.

When a scandal hits a college football program, the loss in sales is usually offset by support from the fan base and student body, Powell said.

“Like when Ohio State went through their problems, the fans actually rallied around the school and sales went up,” he said.

Not so with Penn State.

Because of the gravity of the allegations, merchandising sales are evidently not being buoyed by the Nittany Lion fan base. “This is the first time I’ve seen that,” Powell said.

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Filed under: Crime • Sports • U.S.
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. BOMBO

    But on the plus side, sales are up 5000% with the laregly untapped pedophile market. Way to go Penn State!

    November 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Blondie~

    You would think that would be the last thing to worry about. WoW.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I couldn't wear it to my gym.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Duh. Losing.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. George Patton

    Everyone should make a point of buying Penn State athletic wear. It is the best way to show your support for the wrongly accused Sandusky and rebel against the right wing thugs in Washington who set him up and continue to malign his character.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    -This Just In-
    UFO seen over Sandusky

    November 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BOMBO

    It's official. George has lost his sanity. Say hello to Phil for us.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    @Bombo:
    What the hell?
    I thought GP was a loon before, but this?

    November 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bigwilliestyles

    I wouldn't be caught dead wearing one. I still think the whole thing stinks to high heaven. On a pleasant note: that Glen Rice thing sure shut Palin the he*l up. Still no lawsuit though; go figure.

    November 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Trolling the Troll.

    November 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    The only way Palin will ever shut the hell up is if someone sews her lips shut.

    November 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    -This Just In ...update-
    Seems the Occupants of the UFO over Sandusky are about to...correction...there it is folks. They are flinging green poop at Sandusky, apparently as a friendship ritual. Aww whaat a mess folks..what a mess. Seems they're using 5 gallon buckets, bought at a local lumberyard are being filled with the tacky, smelly, substance. Ladies and Gentlemen, they are literally throwing them, out the portholes of the saucer.

    November 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Jeff...you've watched too much nickelodeon...

      November 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mmmmm

    I doubt if "coach paterno" shirts will ever rebound.

    November 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anomic Office Drone

    I'm surprised they aren't selling even less than that. Only 40% of people who were going to buy Penn State gear decided against it after all this ugliness? Just 40%?

    November 21, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gung hoe

    @right wing Jeff loved your description of the UFO LMAO. But with that said good thing that you didnt use oboma as a target rather than sandusky.I kinda think that yot might have noticed that this site is a leftist liberal site and just as a word of WARNING jeff if you say what you feel about liberal politician you will be attacked!!I mean I enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy,but Its not a debate when its you attempting to answer 3 different posters at once just warning ya jeff

    November 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
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