Kansas Athletics Condemns Offensive T-Shirt

Feb. 12, 2010

LAWRENCE, Kan. – This week a controversy erupted over a blue shirt produced by a local t-shirt manufacturer. The shirt at issue bore the word ‘Kansas’ on the front and a racially derogatory message that insulted the head coach of another school’s men’s basketball team on the back. The appearance of the word ‘Kansas’ has resulted in Kansas Athletics and the University receiving many inquiries concerning the University’s involvement with this shirt.

This shirt is not officially licensed merchandise of the University of Kansas. Kansas Athletics does not condone and would never approve or license this type of message or any other message that is derogatory or insulting to other schools or their coaches.

Over three years ago, the University of Kansas and Kansas Athletics sued the creator of this shirt for trademark infringement. At the time of the lawsuit Kansas Athletics identified over 200 shirts: Some of the shirts infringed on KU’s properly registered trademarks; others were considered offensive, and some could have been confused with properly licensed apparel.

After a two-week jury trial in the summer of 2008, the judge and jury determined that the defendants had willfully infringed on KU’s marks, and awarded the University over $125,000 in damages and over $650,000 in attorneys’ fees. The case is currently on appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kansas Athletics takes seriously its obligation to protect and preserve KU’s registered marks. It has actively tried for several years to stop the sale of these types of offensive shirts and other shirts that mislead KU fans, students, alumni and the general public into believing the shirts are associated with KU, when they are not.