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MSU cracks down on 'Spartan Strong' scams

February 21, 2023
A vigil sits outside the fence of the Union on Feb. 20, 2023. The day before, 'Spartan Sunday' was held on campus where students and the community came together to take back the campus after a mass shooting took place on Feb. 13, 2023.
A vigil sits outside the fence of the Union on Feb. 20, 2023. The day before, 'Spartan Sunday' was held on campus where students and the community came together to take back the campus after a mass shooting took place on Feb. 13, 2023. —
Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

Following a mass shooting on Michigan State University’s campus, the university formed the Spartan Strong Fund to support “student and staff counseling, campus safety enhancements, and recognition for those involved with the crisis, such as first responders.”

Since then, some businesses and individuals have been selling unofficial “Spartan Strong” merchandise which purports to donate to the fund. But without licensing agreements, the university has no way of verifying that those donations are ever made.

MSU deputy spokesperson Dan Olsen said while licensing agreements have previously been used for the university to collect a portion of profits from merchandise, MSU has waived that royalty cut for Spartan Strong products and is using licensing as a method of “verifying” the charitability of products. 

MSU released a consumer alert Tuesday afternoon with this current list of officially licensed merchandisers whose royalties and proceeds go to the fund:

Nudge Printing
- Colosseum
- Underground Printing
- Blue 84
- CDI Corp.
- A. Dean Watkins
- 4Imprint
- Sewing Concepts
- Zephyr
- Gametime Sidekicks

Olsen said the university is currently reaching out to unverified merchandisers, and while some are malicious scams, MSU has also encountered well-intentioned sellers who can go through the licensing process to confirm their contributions to the fund.

The university has asked consumers who encounter products or services that purport to contribute to the fund but are not officially licensed to contact licensing@union.msu.edu or (517) 355-3434.

MSU Director of Licensing Erika Austin said that the university's official Spirit Shop has sold close to 30,000 Spartan Strong t-shirts alone, and 3rd-party sellers like Nudge Printing have reported 5,000 to 6,000.

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