NCAA locks in the “March Madness” trademark

The Kentucky Wildcats hold up the Eastern Regional Championship Trophy after the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at the NCAA East Regional Round of 8 game at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on March 27, 2011. Kentucky defeated North Carolina 76-69 and advance to the NCAA Final Four. UPI/John Angelillo

The NCAA recently made moves to lock in rights for its “March Madness” trademark.

Quietly last October, the association paid $17.2 million to sports and entertainment marketer Intersport to stop using the term “March Madness,” which has been attached to the NCAA’s Division I men’s basketball tournament since the 1980s.

The settlement, spelled out in financial statements but unbeknown to most in the member schools and conferences, gives it sole ownership of a trademark that has been the subject of several legal disputes and challenges over the years. While large on its face, the eight-figure amount accounts for less than 2½% of the association’s $700 million-plus budget.

It’s another story about the business of college sports, coming at a time when we’re seeing scandal after scandal, mostly revolving around improper benefits like tattoos for memorabilia.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is asking why there isn’t a playoff system in college football.

The entire issue of money and college athletics will be front and center for the foreseeable future.


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