North Texas Daily

AD Baker, North Texas resolve dispute over ESPN’s improper usage of ‘Mean Green’

AD Baker, North Texas resolve dispute over ESPN’s improper usage of ‘Mean Green’

October 04
23:19 2017

After using the trademarked nickname “Mean Green” to describe Michigan State prior to their upcoming game against Michigan, North Texas athletics director Wren Baker filed a cease and desist letter early Wednesday morning.

As a result, ESPN has taken down the commercial and will be changing it. Just for security of the trademark though, Baker had to send the letter to ensure their copyright is protected.

“[The problem] is solved,” Baker said. “But we had already triggered a letter to go out. We reached out to our licensing agent early this morning but there’s no reason to pull it back. It’s still a good practice just to make sure that you’re on record.”

Baker has already been in contact with the Michigan State University athletic director Mark Hollis as well as people from ESPN on the problem. From what he knows, the error should mostly be placed on the shoulders of ESPN.

“I would say this one is [on] ESPN,” Baker said. “I think Michigan State was unaware that was the graphic ESPN was putting together. [ESPN] said it was inadvertent on their part and they were working to get it corrected ASAP.”

While the mistake was short-lived, players and coaches on the real Mean Green noticed the commercial and took exception to it.

“I just felt it was a little disrespectful towards us,” junior linebacker E.J. Ejiya said. “We’re the original Mean Green, and I feel like you shouldn’t steal our trademark. Whether their colors are green and white, it doesn’t matter. It’s a sign of disrespect towards us and I didn’t appreciate it at all.”

Baker originally found the errant commercial the way most people did – via Twitter.

After putting his daughters to bed Tuesday night, Baker went back to check his phone only to see all of the traction this caught on social media. After reviewing it to confirm, he emailed a few people back then released his first comments.

The tweet blew up, receiving over 1,600 likes and over 600 retweets in just 15 hours.

“I sent the tweet out right after that, not knowing how much attention it would get,” Baker said. “While I am very serious about protecting the Mean Green, my tweet last night in some ways was a good natured jab. I think it’s been positive publicity for North Texas and the athletic department.”

In the wake of the sent cease and desist letter, Baker tweeted a press release Wednesday morning addressing the situation as a whole.

While the mistake appears to have been resolved, Baker saw it as important to take the offensive instead of wait.

“It was really ESPN who made the mistake, and people make mistakes,” Baker said. “ESPN did the right thing, they said, ‘This is our mistake, we’ll get it corrected’ and then we moved forward.”

Featured image: North Texas football fans celebrate the 46-43 win over the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Sept. 23 at Apogee Stadium. Sara Carpenter

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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