When a bunch of former Ohio State players first joined up to play in The Basketball Tournament, they played under the team name Scarlet & Gray to reflect their past. But after two appearances in the annual summer event, that same group was rechristened as “Carmen’s Crew” – with an ‘x’ over the ‘m’ – before taking the court this summer and eventually taking home the $2 million awarded to the winner.
In an interview on WTVN-AM (610) in Columbus on Friday morning, Rick Van Brimer, Director of OSU Trademarks and Licensing, explained that the team of Ohio State alumni had to change their name from Scarlet & Gray to Carmen’s Crew for multiple reasons and that former coach Scoonie Penn was on board.
“When the tournament first started the guys just got together,” Van Brimer said. “It was throwing a ball on the court and everybody shows up and plays the games. Over the last couple of years, tournament directors have started producing merchandise and selling that merchandise and we had a problem with that because they weren’t licensed by us.”
As part of the tournament’s growth, fans could purchase merchandise to support their favorite teams both online and at games. According to Van Brimer, the players received no revenue generated from such sales.
“They’re playing in the tournament, they’re creating the equity and yet the players get nothing unless they win,” he said.
That generated the meeting with Penn, during which Van Brimer pitched the idea of creating a name specifically for the team. Among the reasons Scarlet & Gray wasn’t acceptable: the university had already licensed it to other entities, including Nike. That meant using the name in a tournament with jerseys sponsored by Puma was a non-starter.
Thus, Carmen’s Crew was born.
“We loved it,” Van Brimer said. “Scoonie loved it. That’ll give us a chance to create some merchandise for this team. The university’s not taking a cut. For lack of a better word, we’re acting as an agent for them and if we can create some merchandise and sell it then those guys get it. That was a way to serve our alums.”