The University of North Texas has resolved a conflict with ESPN and Michigan State University over the use of its trademarked "Mean Green" mascot.
ESPN referred to Michigan State as "Mean Green," which is the official name for UNT's athletic teams, in a promo for this weekend's Michigan State-Michigan game that apparently aired Tuesday.
UNT athletics director Wren Baker released a letter Wednesday morning saying the network "inadvertently" used the school's mascot and that it corrected the commercial once being alerted of the mistake. The letter said Baker had spoken to ESPN and Michigan State athletics director Mark Hollis, who "wholly understands the importance of the Mean Green brand to UNT."
On Tuesday, Baker had said UNT's legal team was prepping a cease and desist letter to ESPN and Michigan State.
He retweeted a screenshot of the promotion with the following comment, tagging the schools and saying "you can't just try to steal #MeanGren."
Hey @espn & @MSU_Athletics , without a doubt @MeanGreenSports is the hottest athletic dept in the country. BUT you can’t just try to steal #MeanGreen. It’s trademarked and has been for a very, very long time. Cease and desist letter on the way. https://t.co/7g69KeEm0T
— Wren Baker (@wrenbaker) October 4, 2017
Baker wasn't kidding. Reached by USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday night, he confirmed that North Texas' licensing attorneys would send a cease and desist letter to Michigan State and ESPN on Wednesday morning.
North Texas AD Wren Baker confirmed to me cease and desist letters will be going out tomorrow over “Mean Green” usage related to Michigan St— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) October 4, 2017
It's not clear if the cease and desist letter was actually sent before the issue was resolved Wednesday. Below is Baker's full letter:
“I’ve spoken with officials from ESPN this morning regarding the commercial promoting the Michigan vs. Michigan State football game this weekend. ESPN inadvertently used the words “Mean Green” in association with Michigan State. ESPN corrected the commercial once becoming aware of the issue. I also received communication from Mark Hollis at Michigan State who fully understands the importance of the Mean Green brand to UNT. I’m appreciative of our long-time partner ESPN for quickly addressing this issue. I also appreciated the communication from Mark who is regarded as one of the true leaders in intercollegiate athletics. Lastly, thanks to all of the Mean Green fans for their loyalty, passion and support. Get your tickets and we’ll see you at our next home game vs. UTSA on October 14th.”
On Tuesday, Baker pointed out that the promo video wasn't the first time the term "mean green" has been borrowed for a Michigan State-related promotion.
Spartans showing off the new Mean Green Hyper Elite Disruption uniforms. pic.twitter.com/5QXdysbU1x— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) January 23, 2016