After Ohio State signed a contract with a second apparel company, some students said despite the incentives, the increased prices might not be worth it.
OSU signed an agreement with Indianapolis-based Hat World Inc., doing business as Lids Sports Group, March 12. The 10-year contract is worth $12.05 million, OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said in an email Monday.
Lids was chosen because OSU “felt it was the best overall fit with the university,” Lewis said.
There are eight stores owned by Lids in Columbus, according to its website, four of which are operating as Buckeye Corner stores at Easton Town Center, Fiesta Center, Northwest Square and Polaris Fashion Place. There are also four Lids stores, located at Eastland Mall, Easton Town Center and two at Polaris Fashion Place.
It was announced in November 2012 that OSU had entered a 10-year, $97 million agreement with two apparel and retail businesses, J. America Sportswear and Fanatics Inc., to exclusively produce and sell university apparel. No agreement, however, was finalized with Fanatics Inc.
The contract with J. America, which is based out of Webberville, Mich., is worth $85 million and is set to last 10 years. The contract was sent to The Lantern Feb. 13 to fill a November 2012 request. OSU did not pursue the agreement with Fanatics for a few reasons, Lewis said.
“From a business outlook and operational philosophy, we re-evaluated all of the submitted bids after the originally selected company, e.g. Dreams, was purchased by Fanatics in the middle of the RFP process. Lids offered the same monetary value, and … provided what we feel is a better fit,” he said.
The RFP, or request for proposal, process is when bids are accepted and looked at.
In practice, the new contract with Lids is not connected “contractually or operationally” with J. America, Lewis said.
The Lids contract guarantees six paid student internships annually, and the contract with J. America states the company will “provide no fewer than three student internship positions each year,” two of which are expected to be paid.
Fanatics did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment about OSU’s contract with Lids Monday.
Some OSU students said they’ve noticed changes since OSU signed a contract with J. America.
“It’s great that we’re ensuring some student internships because that’s obviously a great opportunity for the students here, but I also don’t think it’s right to take advantage of students that are trying to buy their own school’s apparel by driving some of the prices up,” said Nate Derry, a second-year in electrical engineering. “As a student, I’ve noticed that here, some of the prices have gone from $15 to $25 and it’s just something that I don’t feel is right, I feel like there’s a way around it.”
Some local business owners have also said prices have gone up.
“Prices have definitely gone up, mainly because royalties have gone up,” Kelly Dawes, owner of College Traditions, located at 286 W. Lane Ave., said in February. “Because the money J. America has spent with OSU, they have to get that back somehow.
“Where we could normally offer a T-shirt at $12.99, we can’t really do that anymore … the lowest we can get is $14.99.”
Others said they’ve noticed differences in going about their student organization’s business.
“I’m actually the president of the basketball club and we kind of have to deal with some of that stuff, too, so it’s tough for us to get the apparel we want sometimes because it’s kind of another hoop for us to jump through,” said Tim Grosel, a second-year in biology. “The prices have seemed about the same for me, honestly.”
Grosel said OSU notified his club when the contract with J. America was signed, but he hasn’t heard anything about the Lids contract yet.
He said he thinks while student internships add an incentive to signing the contracts, there’s still a price.
“That’s helpful if some students can get more internships, but if it comes at the cost of costing student organizations money, too, it’s kind of one of those give-and-take things,” he said. “We’re giving students more internships, (but) we’re costing them more money so it seems like it comes out at kind of a wash to me.”