AT&T announced Tuesday it was suspending its sponsorship of USA Gymnastics over the organization’s handling of the Larry Nassar sex abuse case, continuing an exodus of corporate support for the Olympic sports organization over the past few months.
“We notified USA Gymnastics today that we are suspending our sponsorship of the organization until it is re-built and we know that the athletes are in a safe environment,” AT&T said in a statement. “The terrible abuse suffered by these young women is unconscionable. We remain committed to helping these young athletes pursue their dreams and hope to find other ways to do so. We stand ready to step back in when USAG has fully addressed these tragic events.”
USA Gymnastics did not respond to a request to comment Tuesday morning. AT&T’s move came after Procter & Gamble and Kellogg’s declined to renew sponsorship agreements in December.
The specific financial impact of these dropped sponsorships is not entirely clear. USA Gymnastics generated $34.5 million in revenue in 2016, according to its most recent financial disclosure to the IRS, but the form does not detail how much of that revenue came from sponsorships. USA Gymnastics typically raises sponsorship money tied to its events, and in 2016, records show, the organization made $12.9 million from its events. In 2016, however, Sports Business Journal reported that sponsorships for the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions generated about $1.5 million to $2 million, the rest of the income coming from tickets sales.
Regardless of the financial impact, however, AT&T’s decision is the latest news to show the fallout from the Nassar case, which has gained renewed national attention this month because of Nassar’s lengthy sentencing hearing, likely is far from over for USA Gymnastics, which saw three board members resign Monday because of rising criticism over the case. Last March, former chief executive Steve Penny resigned his post.
The sentencing hearing for Nassar — which entered a sixth day Tuesday and likely will stretch into Wednesday, as more than 150 girls and women have come forward requesting to read victim impact statements — has not produced new evidence of inaction by USA Gymnastics that permitted Nassar to assault children. The hearing has produced a series of statements from Olympic gymnasts, however — including Aly Raisman — who have asserted the Olympic sports organization enabled Nassar’s abuse, and demanded an independent investigation of USA Gymnastics’ culpability for Nassar’s crimes. Last year, USA Gymnastics commissioned a review of its sex abuse prevention policies, led by a former federal prosecutor, but the review avoided assessing blame for Nassar’s crimes, which are the subject of lawsuits against USA Gymnastics and Michigan State filed by more than 130 girls and women who’ve asserted abuse by Nassar.
Nassar, 54, faces a minimum 25-year sentence for seven counts of criminal sexual conduct assaults he has admitted to as part of a plea deal. Nassar already faces a 60-year term for federal child pornography crimes he pleaded guilty to last year.