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August 01, 2017

You can now sponsor jersey numbers for some Temple football players – if you have the cash

On Tuesday, the Sixers gave fans a first look at their new uniforms, which aside from now being made by Nike also contain an advertisement in the form of a patch near the shoulder. It's something sports fans should get used to, as more and more teams across various leagues are embracing the idea of selling ad space on jerseys.

And the Temple University football program is getting in on the action. It's just doing it in a different, more creative way, one that allows fans, alums and donors to be directly involved. 

Assuming they have $50,000 sitting around.

This week, the Owls, who won the AAC title last season, introduced The 9. And I'll let them explain how it works.

The 9 is a new program that allows Temple University fans to support Temple Athletics and Temple Football while having the experience of interacting with the nine toughest Owl football players. For a $50,000 tax-deductible annual commitment, Temple fans are able to sponsor one of these nine numbers which are considered to be the highest honor an Owl can earn.

"This program is made for the 'Best of the Best' of Temple Owl fans," said Temple University Deputy Director of Athletics Craig Angelos. "As our single digit numbers are earned and limited to our top players, this is limited to our top supporters.  It is an exclusive club and these nine members will feel special in so many ways."  []

The big difference between this and what the Sixers are doing is that this is a tax-deductible donation. So what do you get for your 50 large, aside from helping fund the school's athletic department?

First, the nine sponsored players will wear special helmet decals for respective donors, Temple confirmed to PhillyVoice on Tuesday evening. 

They'll also get to interact with their assigned student-athlete throughout the year, a custom jersey with their name and their designated number, and, perhaps coolest of all, they get a pair of tickets to an away game – and get to travel to said game on the team plane.

Basically, if you're an Owls fan and plan on making a $50,000 donation somewhere, Temple is making it almost impossible for you to say no. 

That's why even though The 9 was just announced, a third of the numbers are already taken. 

Hall of Fame Level Owl Club donors, Drew and Rachel Katz, Pat and Linda Marion, and Mitchell and Debra Sonkin, have already joined The 9 and been assigned the numbers 1 thru 3, respectively.  The remaining numbers will be assigned at an event prior to the start of the Temple Football season.  []

No matter what you think about corporate sponsorship on jerseys, this is not that. It's a pretty cool way for the university to raise some money while promoting alumni relations.

Of course, it would be even cooler if some of the money was going directly to the players. But that's a different problem for a different day.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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