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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Four high schools in Florida, Mississippi and Arkansas have been asked to end their use of UF’s alligator-head logo on their uniforms and merchandise.

The university’s licensing company, Collegiate Licensing Company, has sent out cease-and-desist letters since January to schools that have been using the logo.

Schools using the Florida State University Seminole logo have also been asked to change their symbol, said UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes.

“It’s not a UF or an FSU problem,” Sikes said. “It’s a nationwide issue of how do we deal with competing licensing agreements. And legally, the university has an obligation to protect its trademarks.”

Glades Day School, one of the four schools that received a letter, will now have to spend up to $60,000 replacing the Gator logos around its campus, including on its basketball floor, all the school uniforms and even a statue in front of the building.

Robert Egley, who heads the Belle Glade-based school, said his school had been using UF’s logos since the school opened in 1965.

He said the school did it as a tribute to the university.

“Many of our alumni and members of The Gator Nation in Belle Glade are friends and family of The Gator Nation in Gainesville,” he said. “We love the University of the Florida. We would never do anything intentionally to hurt them or take money out of their pockets.”

Sikes said the issue that got the CLC’s attention was the sale of Gator-branded merchandise.

Egley said that Glades Day School was selling merchandise that carried the Gator logo.

“Faculty and coaches know it’s a battle we cannot win,” he said. “It’s a battle we cannot afford to fight. They know we can’t win because legally we don’t have a leg to stand on.”

The three other schools that were asked to stop using the Gator logo were Ola High School in Ola, Ark., Palm Beach Gardens Community High School in Palm Beach Gardens, and Vicksburg High School in Vicksburg, Miss.

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“The University of Florida certainly embraces other programs that are Gators; we just ask that they create their own logo,” Sikes said. “If it’s out there on every Gator program, it’s no longer the mark of the University of Florida.”

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