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Boise State Turns Into Licensing Gold

The Boise State Broncos flag is run after a touchdown against the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Otto Kitsinger III | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images
The Boise State Broncos flag is run after a touchdown against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

In the 2002-03 school season, Boise State made about $70,000 in gross royalties from merchandise. Last season, that number had jumped ten fold to more than $700,000 after big exposure from wins over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and over TCU in the 2010 version of the game.

After last night’s win against Virginia Tech in the season opener, the school — which at 113-17 has the best overall winning percentage in the nation — is expected to set licensing royalty records yet again.

Walk into the Lids store in Times Square in Manhattan and you’ll see two schools represented west of Ohio: USC and Boise State. The Boise State Bookstore now ships Bronco merchandise to all 50 states and annual sales have resulted in more than $1 million going back to fund scholarships. And more than 350 licensees now make Boise State products from Scentsy Plug-In Room Warmers to Snuggies to yes, even a Boise State Mr. Potato Head. Perhaps a sign of just how big Boise State has gotten? There are women’s replica jerseys. Nike doesn’t do that for every school.

The on-field success to the success at the stores is nothing short of remarkable. Boise State gear used to be an Idaho only staple. Not anymore. This year, Broncos gear will be in Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, Old Navy, Walmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Costco, JC Penney, Kohls and Dillards across the country.

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While it seems like it’s an automatic success, Boise State officials had a lot to do with the reception the Broncos merchandise is now getting nationwide.

Changing the logo to a cooler looking Bronco in 2001 was the first step. Getting the program on national television, playing on odd nights, was another. And who could ever forget about that smurf turf?

You can now buy pieces of it at Famous Blue Turf.

"They have a great logo and colors and have proven they aren’t a flash in the pan." -VP, CLC, Brian White

So how does Boise State sales stack up against the rest of the nation?

Well, what the Broncos will likely collect this year in gross licensing royalties will be less than 10 times what Texas will collect. Last year, the Longhorns became the first school to top $10 million in licensing royalties. But, according to this past fiscal year’s rankings from Collegiate Licensing Company, which controls the licensing of the marks of more than 200 colleges and universities, the Broncos outearned University of Colorado, Stanford, UCONN, Boston College and Georgetown.

Source: Scentsy.net

“They have a great logo and colors and have proven they aren’t a flash in the pan,” said Brian White, vice president of university services for CLC, which is owned by IMG.

And things are looking up even more after the win.

Rachael Bickerton, Boise State’s director of trademark licensing and enforcement, told CNBC that winning the game against Virginia Tech was important from a retail standpoint because the school can now further expand the line — that includes a bigger, bolder Bronco logo — that might have just been a one-night only sensation had the Broncos lost. Bickerton says she’s in the process of licensing replica helmets from what was worn in last night’s game and even says that there's a possibility the uniforms would be worn again.

The Broncos remained third in the AP poll that came out on Tuesday, behind Alabama and Ohio State. The Broncos received seven first place votes.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com