A college football star is fighting back against stores profiting off his likeness -- but it may not be one that proponents of paying players will get behind.
As the debate over schools profiting off student-athletes' names and likeness rages on, Texas Tech football coach Kliff Kingsbury has reportedly made an interesting request: That retailers phase out merchandise specifically referencing him.
The Texas Tech athletic department, according to a report in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, sent a letter to retailers asking that such merchandise be eliminated.
"As we move forward, Coach Kingsbury desires to have that focus redirected towards the football program. So we are looking to shift the focal point off of Coach Kingsbury and back to Texas Tech Football," the letter reportedly said.
"It's very simple: He wants the focus to be on Texas Tech and not himself," added Tech spokesman Blayne Beal to the newspaper.
As the Dallas Morning News pointed out, sales of merchandise referencing Kingsbury, a former Texas Tech quarterback himself, skyrocketed last year. Stores sold shirts that bragged “Our coach is cuter than your coach", others that had references to his signature Oakleys, and more. The Red Raiders' official merchandise site even has an entire section of merchandise labeled 'Welcome home Kliff Kingsbury.'
Retailers told the Avalanche-Journal they'd be more than willing to comply with the request. After all, people just buy merchandise, one said, for school pride -- not the individual star.
"Kliff has been very generous to allow his image and his likeness to be used in commerce. He doesn't have to do this, but I think he knew it was important to unifying that fan base,” said Stephen Spiegelberg, manager of Red Raider Outfitters. "But really, fans are buying Texas Tech products because it's Texas Tech."
It's an argument we believe at least one quarterback down the road at Texas A&M could find mildly amusing.
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