The 98-year-old nun who serves as chaplain for the University of Loyola-Chicago basketball team has given her blessing to license and market her name and image, ESPN reported.
Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, the inspirational force behind the Ramblers' unexpected run to the Final Four gave her approval to school officials to put her image on T-shirts, socks and even bobbleheads.
“We weren't going to do anything until she gave her blessing,” Tom Sorboro, a senior associate athletic director at the school, told ESPN.
"She didn't ask for anything for herself," including compensation, Sorboro said.
The school has approved more than 25 Sister Jean T-shirts from several companies. Fanatics has produced a Final Four shirt with the nun’s signature phrase, “Worship, Work and Win,” ESPN reported. The company has sold more Loyola products in the past 48 hours than it had during the rest of the season, Fanatics spokesman Meier Raivich told ESPN.
The school gave away Sister Jean bobbleheads in 2011 and 2015. Loyola approved a new bobblehead, to be produced in June by the Milwaukee-based Bobblehead Hall of Fame.
"Licensing rules prohibit the sale of bobbleheads of college players," Sklar told ESPN. "But Sister Jean's bobblehead really represents the entire team, school and the Loyola-Chicago community."
Rock 'Em Apparel was approved to license Sister Jean socks. It began selling them on its website on Sunday afternoon, ESPN reported.
"Usually it's an athlete or coach that captivates the attention of the sports world," said Steve Rollins, senior vice president for the company. "She brought Loyola's tournament run to the next level by letting the world see her passion for her team. Everyone wants to wear something with her image on it for good luck."
Licensing royalties for Sister Jean product, except for the bobblehead, are set up to support the Loyola Athletic Fund, which supports the funding of the program's athletes. The bobblehead splits the proceeds between the school's fund and Sister Jean's Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
That Sister Jean has become a sensation during the NCAA Tournament is an understatement. Media tracking company Apex Marketing Group said that there were 20,526 stories that mentioned Sister Jean, ESPN reported. By comparison, there were 5,681 stories that mentioned Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and 9,727 stories reference Kansas coach Bill Self.
"Sister Jean has risen to the top of the sports world by becoming a must-see and must-mention for sports commentators and news organizations," Apex's Eric Smallwood told ESPN.
As the Ramblers prepare for Saturday’s Final Four game against Michigan in San Antonio, Sister Jean fever continues to rise.
"Sister Jean is the most famous religious licensing icon since the pope," Sorboro said. "She's captured the attention of the entire nation."
Cox Media Group