Ohio State & Dallas Cowboys Caught Rigging Bid Process for Monopoly Apparel Deal

Today, Ohio State USAS activists protested at President Gordon Gee's office wearing nothing but cardboard boxes: "I'd rather go naked than wear Dallas Cowboys sweatshop apparel."

For months, Ohio State students and faculty have warned of inappropriate backroom dealings by OSU Athletics to hand over a monopoly contract to the Dallas Cowboys for producing and selling Buckeyes apparel, despite the Cowboys’ being unable to name a single factory that complies with OSU’s Labor Code of Conduct (which requires apparel licensees to respect labor rights and pay living wages). Despite the many indignant denials of OSU administrators, now we have proof. (And Saturday’s NYTimes article exposed the truth, too!) Click here to tell OSU to immediately disqualify the Cowboys on the grounds that they cannot comply with OSU’s labor standards.

Here’s the smoking gun: Read this revealing e-mail exchange between OSU Licensing Director Rick Van Brimmer and Dallas Cowboys COO Bill Priakos. In November 2010, long before Ohio State called for other companies to bid on the contract, Van Brimmer assured the Cowboys they’d get the contract no matter what:

I made a promise to come back to you first, with whatever we think we need, before we do anything else, and I will do that – it’s only fair, since you started the process. The only caveat is that I may be forced into looking at ‘bids’ simply because we are a state agency. But don’t fear that process. Again, you will know EVERY step we take. We will discuss it all – money, retail, hybrids, internet, game day, mail, exclusives, etc. … no matter what we do, you and I will talk. … We have an absolute alliance with Athletics in this regard – keep our options open until we get through this review. Rest easy, my friend. [Emphasis added. See original e-mail.]

Compare that to what Van Brimmer told the Columbus Dispatch in response to the concerns raised by students and faculty:

Yesterday, Van Brimmer stressed that no decision has been made on a deal and reiterated that his department’s search process has been “open, competitive and transparent,” contrary to the student group’s allegation of a “backdoor deal” designed to favor the Cowboys.

Ohio State USAS discovered the email quoted above through a public records request. (If you’d like to see all of the hundreds of pages of documents revealed, e-mail email hidden; JavaScript is required.)

The Columbus Dispatch also reported that Buckeyes retailers and licensees say the proposed deal will hurt local businesses. This means OSU will kill Ohio jobs at a time when the state’s economy needs just the opposite. Ohio’s unemployment rate is at 9.1 percent and has risen three months in a row, Bloomberg reported.

Click here take action to support Ohio State USAS’s campaign to disqualify the Cowboys from getting this dangerous monopoly deal.