University of Florida Brings Its Gator Might Down on Tiny Glades Day Over School's Uniforms

The Glades Day championship team of 2006 wore a uniform with a UF-looking logo on the right shoulder.
Glades Day School

has a pretty amazing football team, considering. The kindergarten-through-12th-grade private school has just 400 students on a tiny campus north of Belle Glade. Yet it has won six class 1B state football championships since 1980, including last year. And the Fighting Gators have a proud tradition of turning out future college and NFL stars, including a couple now in the pros.

Sadly, it's maybe the school's successes that landed it in trouble this year.

In January, the school got a letter from a company representing the University of Florida. It ordered the school to cease using its UF-style logo or face legal action for

copyright infringement.

Principal Robert Egley was shocked. The school had been using the logo since 1965.

"This has been tough," says Egley. The worst part: Egley is also a UF alumnus. "There is a sting to it. This has been aggravating, and it hurts, but we understand it. We just wish they wouldn't come after little schools like us."

Glades Day adopted the logo as an homage to UF when it opened, considering that so many alumni of Glades Day had ended up Gators. The logo has adorned the school and uniforms since then.

But the letter from the Collegiate Licensing Co., which represents UF, demanded that the school remove the logos as soon as possible.

Egley says he didn't consider fighting it -- there's no question UF has the right to enforce its trademarked logo. So he began negotiating with the company on how Glades Day could comply with the demand.

Glades Day is one of four schools warned by Collegiate Licensing to stop using the Gator logo. UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes told the Alligator, the school's newspaper, that asking high schools to remove the logo is just part of protecting the copyright. "It's a nationwide issue of how do we deal with competing licensing agreements," she told the paper. "And legally, the university has an obligation to protect its trademarks."

Egley says Collegiate Licensing has been good about working with Glades Day about how long it'll take to remove the logos. The school can't afford to spend about $60,000 to replace the logo right away. The first step began this year when the varsity football team took the field with new, logo-less uniforms.

Next, the school will replace the baseball uniforms when they wear out, and the Gator logo will be removed from the gymnasium floor when it gets its scheduled maintenance in three years.

Other places with the logo -- the press box, the sign in front of the school, the scoreboard -- will require some sweat equity.

"With a little school like ours, we rely on alumni and parents a lot. When it's time to replace the press box, we'll be asking for volunteers to help."

But Glades Day will still go by the Fighting Gators. The school is asking students and alumni to submit logo ideas that will then go to a vote.

Athletic Director Mike Underwood says what hurts is that last year's football title victory might have been what got UF's attention.

"Nobody likes a winner," Underwood said.

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