ESPN Approves 'Relevant' Endorsements
Responding to criticism that endorsement roles may compromise the objectivity of its on-air talent, ESPN has released a list of "relevant" endorsement relationships it has approved for its anchors, commentators and reporters.
On the approved list is Erin Andrews' role with Reebok, which may have led to the public disclosure in the first place. The Reebok deal was revealed not long after she reported, during the Rose Bowl, that Nike cleats were involved in players losing balance on the field.
Among the ESPN talent relationships listed, Reebok is only involved with Andrews, although other shoe companies have many affiliations. Jalen Rose, working the NBA playoffs, is affiliated with Nike.
So is former Florida coach Urban Meyer, a college football analyst.
Football "College GameDay" commentators Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit will also continue with Nike. But Chris Fowler, the anchor on the show, has dropped his association, which had been previously reported.
Under Armour, which makes apparel and shoes, has relationships with several football commentators who appear on ESPN studio shows, including former NFL coach Mike Ditka and wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. In addition, Cris Carter, who appears on ESPN's Sunday NFL pre-game show, is affiliated with Nike.
Trent Dilfer, who will work ESPN's coming NFL draft coverage, has a relationship with Nike and Callaway golf.
Scott Van Pelt, who is on "SportsCenter" and works on golf coverage, is an endorser for Titleist.
ESPN issued new guidelines on allowed endorsements in the wake of what executive Norby Williamson called "fair public criticism."
The rules prohibit endorsements of apparel or footwear worn by athletes in events ESPN broadcasts, although exceptions will be granted to "players, coaches and administrators" who serve as analysts, "for whom such endorsements are part of the sports coverage/ reporting landscape."