The Honey Badger might not care, but LSU sure does.
The university announced today its compliance office has sent out cease-and-desist letters to a number of people selling T-shirts and other merchandise depicting the Honey Badger—that is, the Tigers’ electrifying cornerback and Heisman hopeful, Tyrann Mathieu.
“Because it is a recognizable nickname, ‘Honey Badger’ is considered a likeness of Tyrann Mathieu under NCAA regulations,” reads a message on LSU’s compliance office website, which later warned the sale of Honey Badger merchandise “could have a negative impact on the involved student-athlete’s eligibility.”
Tiger District CEO Jared Loftus says he has not received a letter regarding his company’s Honey Badger T-shirt. That’s because Loftus’ design does not feature Mathieu’s image, name, initials or number, or any LSU reference—which are all listed as violations of LSU’s licensing rules.
“Those letters have been going out for a while now, but we’re in the clear,” Loftus says. “LSU is fully aware of our product and has been from the beginning. Our first contact with them about it was back in October.”
Without defending anyone else’s Honey Badger merchandise designs, Loftus says he doesn’t see how LSU can claim rights to the Honey Badger name if it’s not used in conjunction with the LSU likeness or name.
“This Honey Badger thing is bigger than LSU. In Baton Rouge, people associate it with Tyrann Mathieu, but if you ask people around the country about the Honey Badger, they’re going to say, ‘Yeah, I saw that video, it’s hilarious,’ ” he says.
Mathieu began being called the Honey Badger after a humorous YouTube video of the fearless mammal went viral. You can check out some examples of Honey Badger merchandise that LSU doesn’t care for here, and see Tiger District’s compliant shirt design here.