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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 18, 2010

UH could become brand name


By Ferd Lewis

Missouri City, Texas proudly bills itself as the "show me city."

And since one of its local football teams, Hightower High, went to the kapa-style "H" logo of the University of Hawai'i, it has shown a lot, going 24-2 and making a state 5-A (large school) football final.

With its success, the Houston-area school is precisely the kind of place in which the Warriors would love to gain a recruiting foothold and build a pipeline.

And, quite by accident, the distinctive logo has given them some common ground. Namely, the Hurricanes have become attached to the logo and UH owns the trademark, which would seem to be a point from which they could build bridges in a win-win scenario for all concerned.

Instead of untethering the lawyers and firing cease-and-desist salvos, this would seem an opportunity for UH to practice benevolence, not to mention big-picture enlightened self interest.

Something along the lines of encouraging Hightower to work with UH's licensing program and build a positive relationship with the Warriors on several fronts. One that speaks across the wide expanse of five time zones and nearly 4,000 miles that separate them.

Former UH coach June Jones, who had a hand in redoing the logo in 2000, is now at Southern Methodist, where he has two Hightower grads on his roster.

So, there is talent to be mined at Hightower. Not that it will be easy, of course. But when you are UH and 2,500 miles off the beaten path, few things worth having are.

For this is, after all, college and its overlord, the NCAA, has a fist full of regulations prohibiting even the mere appearance of chumminess between one of its flock and a high school full of impressionable potential recruits. Oops, sorry, "recruitable student athletes" as the phrase goes.

Forget about trading the logo rights for a player to be named later. Were UH to start handing out logo items and reeling in blue chip recruits, the NCAA would be camped out in Mānoa faster than you could say "lack of institutional control."

Moreover, NCAA issues are only part of the problem. UH officials say the school is bound to defend its trademark rights or risk losing them.

Meanwhile, it is the upper campus, not the athletic department, that oversees the licensing and reaps the financial rewards. But that's a column for another day.

The "H" logo was, at its inception 11 years ago, meant to set UH apart as a brand. That it has done that, in the process being adopted in Texas, Arkansas, Utah and who-knows-where-else at last report, has given UH both new challenges and opportunities.

So, what the "H" why not embrace it?