Under Armour, Hershey's, Procter & Gamble ending sponsorships of USA Gymnastics
Two USA Gymnastics sponsors will not renew their deals with the organization when their contracts expire at the end of the year, and another sponsor has decided to end its deal more than 2½ years early, sources told ESPN.
Sources said Under Armour, Hershey's and Procter & Gamble, some of USA Gymnastics' biggest sponsors, are moving on as sexual assault cases continue to rock the sport.
A source told ESPN on Friday that Under Armour, which signed an eight-year deal in 2013 to provide performance apparel, footwear and accessories to the team through the 2020 Summer Games, was ending its deal early.
A Hershey's source told ESPN that, with 16 days left on the contract, there have been no serious renewal negotiations.
Procter & Gamble said in a statement provided to ESPN that "we will evaluate to renew our partnership next spring, in light of our longer term priorities and continued actions on their part." The statement also said the company wants to "ensure all voices who have been affected by abuse have been heard and that USAG takes all measures necessary to address such vitally important issues."
More than 140 women have accused former team doctor Larry Nassar of sexually abusing them. Many are part of a lawsuit against Nassar that is now in federal court.
Nassar, who last month pleaded guilty in Michigan to 10 counts of sexual contact with underage girls, was fired from USA Gymnastics in 2015, but the gymnasts say the organization didn't do enough and still hasn't taken responsibility for the doctor's actions.
Last week, USA Gymnastics filed a motion to dismiss the claims of all the gymnasts against them, saying they had "no legal duty to protect plaintiffs from Nassar's criminal conduct."
On Friday, three women who say they were abused by Nassar -- 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher, former national team member Jeanette Antolin and three-time national champion rhythmic gymnast Jessica Howard -- released a statement after a report in the Orange County Register that Procter & Gamble and Kellogg's, whose deal expired at the end of 2016, would not return as sponsors.
"Procter & Gamble and Kellogg's have decided they can no longer support an organization which refuses to take responsibility for the crimes committed by their National Team doctor and their failure to warn others of his criminal conduct," the three said in a statement. "Hershey's, Under Armour, AT&T, United Airlines and NBC Sports should put their money where America's conscience is and withdraw their financial support of this organization until their officers and directors are replaced by people who will protect the health and safety of child athletes."
United Airlines said the company does not sponsor USA Gymnastics, any individual sports or their governing bodies.
"United Airlines is proud to support the United States Olympic Committee and the outstanding athletes who represent the United States in Olympic competition," the company said in a statement provided to ESPN.
In a statement, USA Gymnastics said it is "extremely grateful to all of our corporate partners for their support of our athletes, our sport and the organization."
"While USA Gymnastics entered into certain sponsorship agreements that have been fulfilled, we are now discussing renewal opportunities that will reflect our commitment to creating a culture of empowerment focused on athlete safety and other important initiatives," USA Gymnastics said. "We value our longstanding partnerships with all of our corporate partners, and we look forward to working together with them to make a positive difference in our athletes' lives."
Officials with AT&T and NBC Sports didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
"Sponsors of USA Gymnastics are normally marketing their product to children and their families," said John Manly, a lawyer who represents 106 of Nassar's accusers, including Dantzscher and McKayla Maroney, who was part of the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympics team in 2012. "Our country might be deeply divided politically, but one thing everyone is united on is their opinion of sexual abuse. It is vile and unacceptable, and no corporation wants to be associated with that."
One USA Gymnastics executive, president Steve Penny, has lost his job after the sexual assault accusations. In June, three months after Penny left, The Wall Street Journal reported that he received a severance package of nearly $1 million.
Manly said he was surprised that the USOC, which is named as a defendant in the lawsuits, hasn't done more, not only on a moral basis but also to protect its future financial interests.
While lawyers are looking for compensation for the victims, Manly said there would be no discussion of that until the lawsuits accomplish their goal of understanding who knew what and when.
On Friday, Michigan State, where Nassar was also employed and was alleged to have abused victims, announced it was creating a $10 million fund that will be geared toward counseling for Nassar's victims.
Earlier this month, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for possessing child pornography.