Varsity Brands Inc. is made up of three companies: Varsity Spirit, which sells uniforms, hosts competitions, and runs instructional cheerleading and dance camps; Herff Jones, which is a provider of graduation and educations products such as class rings, jewelry, caps and gowns, yearbooks and recognition products; and BSN Sports, a distributor of sports uniforms and equipment.
Varsity Brands is a holding company with ties to national cheerleading competitions within the United States. The company produces apparel for football, cheerleading, and dance activities, with subsidiary units and programs that regulate and administer most organized cheerleading activities within the United States. Involvement in cheerleading activities includes its ownership of subsidiaries and programs that conduct competitions and camps. Notably, the breadth of influence Varsity Brands Inc. possesses over cheerleading activities has led to discussion of potential conflicts of interest including its interests related to the issue of the classification of competitive cheerleading as a sport in the United States.
Potential conflicts of interest
While holding an interest in the business of cheerleading apparel, Varsity Brands Inc. owns subsidiaries and programs:
- Responsible for conducting national cheerleading competitions, where scoring systems are intertwined with promotion of Varsity Brand's products. A recent court decision provides an example: "During the “spirit” portion of the competition, cheerleading teams are awarded points for using props, such as pom poms, sold by Varsity Brands; the more props a team uses, the more points that team receives".
- Overseeing and certifying practitioners responsible for safety in cheerleading activities.
- Institutionalizing high financial costs for participation in forms of competitive cheerleading.
These conflicts of interest were a main focus of Season 8, episode 1 of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
Programs and subsidiaries
Programs and subsidiaries of Varsity Brands Inc. include:
- American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA)
- Conducts cheerleading safety education and risk management.
- National Council for Spirit Safety & Education (NCFSSE)
- Provides safety training and certification programs.
- American Cheerleader Magazine
- National Cheerleaders Association (NCA)
- Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA)
- United Spirit Association (USA)
- Universal Dance Association (UDA)
- National Dance Alliance (NDA)
- American Cheer Power (ACP)
- American Cheerleaders Association (ACA)
- World Spirit Federation (WSF)
- Spirit Sports (SS)
- All Star Challenge (ASC)
- V!ROC – Choreography (VROC)
- Varsity TV (VTV)
- U.S. All Star Federation (USASF)
- Spirit Cheer (SC)
- Cheerleading.com (C)
- Cheerleading Technique Camps (CTC)
- International All-Levels Championship (IALC)
- Spirit Xpress Cheerleading (SXC)
- The American Championships (TAC)
- Athletic Championships (AC)
- Varsity Spirit Fashions (VSF)
- Cheerleader & Danzteam (CDT)
- Varsity Uniforms (VU)
- Universal Dance Association (UDA)
- Ozone (O)
America’s Most Spirited High School Contest
In 2015, Varsity Brands created the America’s Most Spirited High School Contest. High schools from 33 states were represented in the inaugural contest. In September 2015, Vista Murietta High School in California was announced as the winner. The school received $25,000 from Varsity Brands.
Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards
In 2016, Varsity Brands launched the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards. The awards include sixteen different categories. Each winner received prize money, adding up to $25,000 in awards from Varsity Brands.
- Rebranding Spreads Varsity Name Around http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2014/06/03/rebranding-spreads-varsity-name-around.html
- <<Wall Street Journal, http://blogs.wsj.com/privateequity/2014/11/04/the-morning-leverage-charlesbank-and-partners-group-get-their-varsity-letters/>>
- SEC Filing for Varsity Brands http://www.secinfo.com/dr4ur.72pf.htm#s3n
- AP: "Judge in Conn.: Cheerleading not a college sport" https://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g4qjhOHa7ww0rqi3HWMxFcupRvZgD9H3LN2G1
- Biediger, et al., v. Quinnipiac Univ., pp. 31-32 http://courtweb.pamd.uscourts.gov/courtwebsearch/ctxc/KX330R32.pdf
- Penn and Teller, "Bullshit: Cheerleading" Season 8, Episode 1 http://www.sho.com/site/ptbs/episodes.do?episodeid=136409&ep=801
- "Cheerleading may not be a sport, but it is an industry" http://www.csmonitor.com/Money/new-economy/2010/0722/Cheerleading-may-not-be-a-sport-but-it-is-an-industry
- Varsity Sports http://www.whois.net/whois/AACCA.org
- American Cheerleader Sold to Varsity Spirit Corp.
- "Vista Murrieta High School Named Most Spirited School in the United States". 3 November 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
- "Varsity Brands Honors Schools, Groups And Individuals Promoting Outstanding Student Engagement And Community Spirit With School Spirit Awards". TheStreet. 11 February 2011.
- Official website
- Varsity Brands, Inc., Company Profile: http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=318844
- SEC disclosure by Varsity Brands Inc., includes discussion of potential business risks related to safety issues and the classification of cheerleading as a sport: http://www.secinfo.com/dr4ur.59y.htm
- Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. at SCOTUSblog