LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Cornhusker-theme HotHuskers.com, with its photos of women in various forms of undress, faced unexpected heat Friday after university officials found out about the Web site — and its unauthorized use of its well-known logos.
The site's background featured Husker logos, a player video that appeared on YouTube but was produced by the university, and pictures of former athletes. Turan Odabasi, a university intellectual property rights attorney, said HotHuskers.com never sought — and still doesn't have — permission to use the material.
"Obviously, we don't want to be associated with sites like this or endorse or approve of that, but our main concerns is use of (trademarks)," said Michael Stephens, assistant athletic director for marketing.
He said the athletic department and Collegiate Licensing Co. typically discover eight to 12 instances a month where someone is improperly using protected material. Collegiate Licensing handles trademarks for the NCAA and about 200 colleges and universities.
"Sometimes I call the folks and they may not understand licensing and the fact you need approval," Stephens said. "I get on the phone, explain the process, explain the legalities and then we get it resolved."
The domain HotHuskers.com is registered to Citropolis Corp. of Omaha, though the Nebraska Secretary of State's Office said no such business was registered in the state. An address listed for Citropolis was a commercial mailbox rental store in Omaha.
Responding to messages left for Citropolis by The Associated Press, a man who identified himself only as "Joe" said he had run HotHuskers.com for three years and never fielded a complaint about its content. He said he did nothing different than other fan Web sites, many far older than HotHuskers.com, that use similar university-specific material.
"If they want to pick on anybody, they should pick on the ones who have been doing it the longest," he said.
The logos, pictures and video were removed from the site by late Friday, after the AP's inquiry, and featured a disclaimer that it wasn't affiliated with the university.
The home page had been adorned with the Husker logos and smaller game-action photos of former Nebraska football player Marlon Lucky and former volleyball players Rachel Holloway and Christina Houghtelling. It featured blogs, message boards and galleries of "hotties" that had no affiliation with the school, "Joe" said. There was no charge to become a member of the site, which didn't sell items with university logos. He said the site was geared toward young men.
The site also included a high school highlight video of current Nebraska backup quarterback Cody Green that "Joe" said was linked from HotHuskers.com to YouTube.
Stephens said the university produced the video and HotHuskers.com needed approval to use the video. Stephens said he didn't know how it made its way YouTube.
Stephens said attorneys had not contacted the Web site's owner.