From time to time, people ask me for insight about their IU collectibles. I thoroughly enjoy being able to provide the information that they are seeking, and especially enjoy the challenge of researching an item I have never seen before.
Recently, I have received inquiries about IU basketball game-used items: where to find them, how to identify game-used versus retail, the different manufacturers that have been used over the years, etc. Over the last few years, I have attempted to compile the most comprehensive database possible of photos and information related to Indiana basketball game-used jerseys in order to eventually have a complete chronology over the years.
For starters, I’ll go over the basics of what to look for when seeking out IU game-used items.
1. Auction sites are your best bet.
If you are serious about wanting to add a REAL game-used IU basketball jersey to your collection, monitor auction sites — Ebay, Grey Flannel, Heritage, Mears, Goldin, etc.
From time to time, IU jerseys pop up for sale. However, you are most likely going to only find jerseys that are from role players and not the major IU stars we have adored in our lifetime.
In my time monitoring auctions, I have only seen maybe a handful of jerseys for sale from a Hoosier legend (examples: Randy Wittman, Kent Benson, Mike Woodson, Isiah Thomas, and Steve Downing). Furthermore, I’m almost certain that the jerseys worn during the 1975-76 season remain in the possession of the Indiana University Athletic Department, (as they should).
2. Know what is “game-used” and what is not.
Retail jerseys are pretty much available anywhere, and can be identified with a few basic observations:
- Sizes will usually always be letter (XL) and not numeric (ex. 48). The only earlier exception would be that of Champion jerseys used from 1987-89, which used letter sizing, as well as Adidas, which began using lettering sizing in 2010.
- Retail jerseys are usually always made outside the U.S.
- The overall quality will not be as high as something game-worn
- Numbers and letters are usually always screen printed, NOT sewn on (Starter in the mid-90’s did make retail jerseys with everything sewn on, however, and so has Adidas in recent years)
Game-used jerseys, on the other hand, will be of higher quality at observation, and when handling.
- Game-used jerseys will be sized numerically (usually somewhere between 38-52, depending on the era). In addition, jerseys may bear tagging for additional length (ex. +2″ length)
- Game-used jerseys are usually made in the U.S. One common manufacturer that has made jerseys for major companies like Adidas and Nike is Ripon Athletics out of Berlin, WI. The only exception that I have seen is with Adidas game used items, as they began being made in Thailand in 2009 and beyond.
- Almost always, everything on the jersey will be sewn on (tackle twill). Occasionally with other teams you will find game-used jerseys with screen print. However, every IU basketball jersey in history contains sewn on numbers and lettering.
3. Know what IU wore, and when they wore it.
Indiana has worn a variety of uniform manufacturers over the years, and knowing what to look for can help your search.
Information related to IU jersey manufacturers from before 1960 is hit or miss, but the big basketball jersey makers at the time were O’Shea, MacGregor, and Spalding. Note: pre-1960 IU game-used basketball jerseys are very rare. I have only seen two in private hands since I began collecting.
Here are IU jersey manufacturers with the corresponding years:
1949-50 season through 1965-66 season- MacGregor
1966-67 through 1975-76- Rawlings
1976-77 through 1986-87- Medalist Sand-Knit (also known as MacGregor Sand Knit in mid-80’s) Note: IU began wearing jerseys of “mesh” material during the 1981-82 season.
1987-88 through 1988-89- Champion
1989-90 season through the early part of the 1990-91 season- Asics
1990-91 through 1993-94- Champion
1994-95 through 1997-98- Starter
1998-99 through 1999-2000- Logo Athletic
2000-2001 season- began with Ripon (remember those bright, shiny jerseys?), then switched to Nike mesh jerseys during first quarter of Big Ten season
2001-02 through 2003-04- Nike
2004-05 to present- Adidas
Hopefully, this guide has provided you with information that will aide you when seeking out IU game-used basketball jerseys. If you are in need of additional information, or have any questions, feel free to contact me: @IUArtifacts on Twitter, or email@example.com.