- Some donations to gay waitress who allegedly forged hate note refunded
- German President Joachim Gauck boycotting Sochi Olympics
- Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: If you want to pay more for your doctor, you can under Obamacare
- Sen. Rand Paul: ‘I am seriously thinking about’ running for president in 2016
- Sleet, ice, deepfreeze hit large swath of U.S.
- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
Penn State loses one sponsor, others could follow
STATE COLLEGE, PA. (AP) - State Farm is pulling its ads from Penn State football broadcasts, while General Motors is reconsidering its sponsorship deal and Wall Street is threatening to downgrade the school’s credit rating, suggesting the price of the sexual abuse scandal could go well beyond the $60 million fine and other penalties imposed by the NCAA.
Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm said it had been reviewing its connection to Penn State since the arrest of retired assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky last November. The insurance company said it will pull ads from broadcasts of Nittany Lions home games but continue to advertise during Penn State’s away contests.
State Farm had no immediate information on how much money is at stake.
The governing body also erased 14 years of victories, wiping out 111 of coach Joe Paterno’s wins and stripping him of his standing as the most successful coach in the history of big-time college football.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said he relied on a report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who found that Paterno and three top officials concealed child sexual abuse allegations against Sandusky more than a decade ago to protect the school and its powerful football program.
With Penn State’s once-sterling reputation in tatters, the university could face an exodus of sponsors unwilling to have their brands linked to scandal, said Kevin Adler, founder of Chicago-based Engage Marketing Inc.
“I think the public perception is pretty clear and definitive at this point. That brand is damaged beyond the point of short-term repair. It is the sponsorship partner’s obligation first and foremost to look after the health of their own brand,” Adler said. “None of the sponsors owe Penn State anything.”
So far, though, Penn State appears to be hanging on.
“Highmark’s partnership with Penn State is about health and wellness. We do have a sponsorship with the athletics program. While we routinely evaluate all of our sponsorships, we plan to continue at this time,” spokesman Aaron Billger said.
PNC Financial Services Group issued a statement after the July 12 release of the Freeh report that its “ongoing engagement with the university signals our support of the students and traditions of Penn State. … We believe that the university will learn from this experience and become stronger.”
Bank spokesman Fred Solomon said the NCAA sanctions have not changed PNC’s position.
Pepsi spokeswoman Gina Anderson said Tuesday the company also stood by its recent statement in response to the Freeh report.
“We are deeply disturbed by the findings of the investigation and the conduct of certain individuals at Penn State University, but will continue to honor our longstanding contract as a campus beverage provider,” the statement said.
Moody’s Investors Service said Tuesday that it may cut the school’s Aa1 rating. The Freeh report, along with the NCAA sanctions, could hurt enrollment and fundraising, and the school is still under state and federal investigation, the rating agency said.
A downgrade could make it more expensive for Penn State to borrow money for expansion or other projects.
Around Happy Valley, as the university and the surrounding area are known, Penn Staters and business owners worry that the NCAA sanctions will drive down attendance at home games and hurt the hotels, restaurants and university-themed clothing shops that rely on the Nittany Lions’ loyal football fans.
“Football is absolutely intertwined with the university, therefore the town,” said graduate student Will Ethier. “Such hard hits really will hit the town economically.” He added: “If one gets sanctioned, everybody else gets sanctioned.”
Average attendance at the 106,500-seat Beaver Stadium has long been robust. It ranked no lower than fourth nationally in average attendance each year since 1991, a university spokesman said. And Penn State’s alumni association, with more than 165,000 members, is billed as the largest in the world. Already, the team has sold 85,000 season tickets for 2012.
Still, Matt Powell, an analyst with SportsOneSource, a Charlotte, N.C.-based provider of sports business information, said sales of Penn State clothing are dropping, from about $80 million in 2010 to $60 million after the scandal broke last year to possibly $45 million this year.
Chris Stathes, who has a daughter at Penn State and manages a Waffle Shop in State College, said he would not be surprised to see 20,000 or 30,000 empty seats at Beaver Stadium. He said some fans might not want to make the drive to see home games in State College, several hours from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
“What are you going to watch for?” Stathes said. “They can’t advance to any postseason bowl game or anything like that. People are still going to be disgusted over the whole thing.”
Several Penn State fans, whether they buy tickets or watch on TV, insisted they would not lose interest in the team.
“We will go to every game,” said Sam Zamrik, 80, a retired professor of engineering and a season ticket holder for 40 years. “They need our support.”
First-year head coach Bill O’Brien said of the team’s fans Tuesday: “I would tell them to renew their season tickets. I would tell them to move forward, turn the page. I would tell them we’ve got a football team that’s working extremely hard for this upcoming season.”
AP Sports Writer Genaro C. Armas in State College contributed to this story.
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- Craigslist killers: Police say newlyweds stabbed man for thrills
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- Dick Cheney: Family feud over gay marriage has been 'dealt with'
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- Sen. Rand Paul: Long-term unemployment benefits are disservice to workers
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Opinion, analysis, and musings on politics, pop culture, reinvention, and the resultant flotsam and jetsam floating around the right-of-center quadrant of the Left Coast.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
White House pets gone wild!