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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Fans who buy unlicensed University of Tennessee merchandise may inadvertently endanger the eligibility of a UT football player, UT’s director of licensing said Thursday.

Sara Phillips said the NCAA prohibits the use of a student-athlete’s name or likeness on any commercial item, such as a T-shirt, sweatshirt or poster unless the merchandise is sold at an outlet controlled by the university.

The penalty for violations could include loss of eligibility for the player involved, Phillips said.

The licensing program provides money to support scholarships and other student activities and helps ensure product quality, she said.

“We are continuing our efforts to educate the public about the problems associated with the unlawful sale of unlicensed goods at UT,” Phillips said. “By being aware of unlicensed merchandise and refusing to buy it, football fans help protect the playing eligibility of UT players and help support UT student programs.”

Phillips said criteria indicating products are licensed include:

* A red and blue “Officially Licensed Collegiate Products” label that appears on all merchandise approved by the university.

* The manufacturers name on the label or on the garment.

* Trademark designation next to all University of Tennessee markings.

Phillips said UT police and staff from the Collegiate Licensing Company will check vendors before and after home games this year. Authorities will issue citations to persons unlawfully selling unlicensed merchandise and will seize unlicensed goods, she said.

Selling of unlicensed products can be reported by contacting the UT Licensing Office at (423) 974-5070 or CLC at (770) 956-0520.

Contact: Sara Phillips (423-974-5070)