Universities Tell High Schools: Stop Using Our Logos

High schools around the nation are being asked to replace beloved gator logos.

Nov. 17, 2010— -- Robert Egley, principal of a south Florida high school in Belle Glade, received a letter asking him to change his school's logo a few months ago.

The reason? Its resemblance to the University of Florida's trademarked gator head.

Since 1965, Glades Day School has used a modified version of the gator as their school's mascot. Although their colors are green and gold rather than orange and blue, UF officials feel the logos are too similar.

But Egley says this goes beyond a mascot, it is his school's identity.

"It has hurt students, alumni and boosters," Egley said. "They can't believe after all these years they're going after our school."

The gator is proudly worn on Glades Day athletic uniforms, displayed on school signs and even painted on the gym floor.

"It's hard to be on campus and not see the gator logo," Egley said.

But after 44 years, that is changing. The school is spending up to $60,000 replacing the gator logos.

And they're not the only ones.

At least four high schools in Florida, Arkansas and Mississippi have been asked to stop using the reptile as their logo.

The University of Florida's licensing firm, Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), has sent out "cease-and-desist" letters to schools that have been using similar versions of the gator.

The university realizes that there are costs involved for the schools and does not expect the logos to be replaced immediately, said UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes.

"However, we have an obligation to protect that logo," Sikes said. "If we don't protect it, we could lose it."

It isn't only an issue involving Florida fans. There is a nationwide debate over how to deal with college licensing agreements.

CLC protects the logos and trademarks of more than 160 colleges and universities in the U.S. They are sending letters to stop schools across the nation from using collegiate logos as their own.

"They may be using these logos for a certain period of time, but it doesn't become an issue until we become aware of it", said CLC spokesman Jim Arronowitz.

The CLC would not state what specific logos have been commonly used.

It's up to the colleges to take action against the schools or not, Arronowitz said.

While some high schools are replacing their logos with new ones, others are not budging.

Jerry Calder, principal of Monroe Central High in southeastern Ohio, thought the letter asking him to change his school's Seminole logo was a prank.

The high school chose the garnet and gold Indian-head nearly 17 years ago, to give tribute to Florida State University.

"We're a long way from the Seminoles", he said. "Didn't think they'd mind us using a similar symbol."

Even though they may not be in the same region of the country, university officials did mind.

"It doesn't make sense," Calder said, "It's ridiculous to think we're infringing on their marketing. If anything, we're adding to their market. We're in buckeye country."

Calder started seeing articles about other logo use cases and realized it was not a scam.

"Going after any high school out of the blue, especially one as small as ours, is kind of shameful on the university involved," he said.

Since receiving the letter stating the school's logos were "'nearly' the same," Calder said he hasn't done anything to make a change.

"The school should not be forced spend money we don't have," he said.

Some college students agree.

Branden Clarke, a University of Florida senior, feels that high schools already using the college logos should be able to keep them.

"It's kind of ridiculous," he said. "The high schools are clearly separate from the university and they have traditions too."

Still, university officials are standing firm with their decision.

There is passion on all sides of this topic because people are passionate about their team, Sikes said.

"The University of Florida is not angry or mad. We just want them to make their own logo," she said.