Some people live and die with their alma mater’s sports team, but WebCaskets.com is taking the latter part a little too literally. The Georgia firm recently began selling caskets painted in team colors and decorated with the school’s logo.
Diehard Musketeer fans, though, will have to go to their grave with something a little more understated. Logo-laden coffins won’t get the University’s stamp of approval, says Andy Barry, director for athletic ticketing and person through whom all Xavier merchandise requests must filter.
“I’ve heard of toilet seats that play fight songs,” Barry says. “I haven’t seen a request for one, nor would I approve it, but we do see a lot of unusual requests. After a while, you become numb to them.”
Being a medium-sized school, Xavier is spared many of the more bizarre merchandising requests—logo-shaped food, logo-covered cowboy boots, coffins—but still must deal with other logo-related issues, such as counterfeit goods and trademark infringements. One recent counterfeit T-shirt, for instance, misspelled “Musketeers.” Someone also tried to trademark a “Busketeer” logo that was nearly identical to the Musketeer logo. The 130-plus vendors licensed to produce Xavier merchandise are generally conservative, Barry says, and only manufacture items that are likely to sell. Plus, he says, Xavier lacks one of the biggest elements for manufacturing wacky logo-decorated items—football. The sport generally draws more fans, which translates into more sales opportunities. Plus, it’s played in the fall, when people are looking for new clothing.
Barry, however, regularly receives requests to merchandise products related to Xavier football, even though the University dropped the sport in 1973. He won’t do it, though, he says. His only exception is a T-shirt that says, “Xavier Football: Undefeated Since 1973.” It sells extremely well, but since the whole subject of dropping Xavier football is still so controversial, he says, there’s no sense in stirring up old ghosts. Coffins don’t stand a chance.