SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The licensing agent for MU has contacted the Harrisburg School District, saying the southeastern South Dakota school's tiger logo is "confusingly similar" to the Missouri tiger.
As a result, Superintendent Jim Holbeck says the Harrisburg district has stopped using the logo on its Web site and stationery. The tiger logo will be gradually phased out on athletic jerseys, he said.
MU's Collegiate Licensing Co., based in Atlanta, has been working with Harrisburg to handle the issue, Holbeck said.
Collegiate Licensing Co. handles trademarks for the NCAA and about 200 colleges and universities.
Jim Aronowitz, a lawyer with the licensing agent, says trademark issues with high school logos are fairly common. It's left up to each college how protective it wants to be, he said.
Aronowitz said Collegiate Licensing Co. often creates a phase-out plan to ease the financial burden of changing logos.
"Our goal here is not to insist the logo be removed the next day or the next week. We want to limit the financial impact on the school," he said.
Collegiate Licensing has cooperated with the district to make sure eliminating the logo is not a financial burden, Holbeck said.
Athletic jerseys with the tiger logo can go through the normal cycle of replacement, which is about four years.
The largest Harrisburg tiger, which is at the center of the district's new football field, will be allowed to live out its 20-year life span.
Wayne Carney, executive director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association, said he doesn't remember any other school in the state having to change its logo in this type of situation since he's observed high school athletics. His organization doesn't monitor or regulate team mascot choices.
Eleven South Dakota schools have tigers for a mascot, Carney said. "There's got to be literally hundreds of teams named the tigers" nationwide, he said.
Harrisburg decided to create a new logo, Holbeck said.
"We see it as a positive thing. Let's move on and find something original, something that's totally ours," Holbeck said. After students and staff submit designs, students will pick a new tiger from the submissions and will paint that logo on the floor of the gym in its new high school.
A new logo should be picked by the end of the school year, Holbeck said.
Harrisburg senior Jessa Knust wondered why MU was so concerned about it.
"It's just a small school in South Dakota. I don't know why they care so much," Knust said.