General Motors sponsorship programs with various NCAA athletic programs is run by regional offices and in light of the child sex scandal involving former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, GM is reconsidering their support of Penn State University at the corporate level. The Sandusky sex scandal has had a massive impact on the football program and it seems that GM may no longer be interested in supporting a university that went to great lengths to harbor a sexual predator who was using his position of power with the university as well as university facilities to molest young boys for over a decade.
As a result of the scandal, former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 charges of sexual abuse of a child. Prior to his sentencing, legendary head coach Joe Paterno was fired after it went public that Paterno knew about Sandusky’s actions for years and did not go to the police or even remove Sandusky from his position as an assistant coach. The football program has also had to vacate all of their wins from 1998 to 2011 - a move which effectively ousted Joe Paterno from the position of the winningest coach in college football history.
General Motors has not stated when a decision would be made as to whether or not they will continue to support Penn State University nor is it clear what type of sponsorship program they have with PSU. Car companies are often involved with college athletics through the support of scholarship programs and in-game television advertisements along with other forms of financial support of the school. It is unclear what kind of real impact it will have to Penn State if General Motors opts not to continue their sponsorship of the program in a financial sense but the bigger concern at this point for school officials should be the impact that GM pulling sponsorship has on other sponsors.
General Motors is actually the second major company to publicly question their support of Penn State University as a result of the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal after State Farm Insurance announced on Tuesday that they would not continue to advertise on television during Penn State football games. Losing both State Farm Insurance and General Motors could influence other major sponsors of Penn State to pull their financial support – further complicating the problems facing the school as a result of Jerry Sandusky heinous deeds. These two companies have not stated the exact reason why they considered pulling funds from Penn State but one major part of their concern could be the perception of consumers who may disapprove of support for a school that knowingly let a child sex predator serve on their football staff. Many consumers will be quick to frown upon any company who continues to support Penn State after the results of the Jerry Sandusky trials so it may have been a combination of a moral decision and a business decision. The automaker may also believe that the money sent to Penn State would be better off with a school that doesn’t harbor child sex predators.
Another major factor in GM pulling their sponsorship money from the business decision angle is that the negative impact on Penn State athletics could vastly decrease the television ratings of those games on TV – making it less valuable for companies to advertise during PSU football games. If GM has an advertising deal during PSU football games, they may not see any reason to invest the money in games that fewer people are watching. For this reason, we may see other major companies come out and pull advertising money for PSU broadcasts – again shifting that money to other football programs that may receive higher ratings. In addition to the lower ratings for average games, Penn State has been banned for any post season games for the next four seasons so not only will fewer people be seeing any advertisements during Penn State games but the team will not be playing in any of the huge games that bring the biggest TV viewership – like the Big Ten Championship or a BCS bowl game.
Again, there is no time frame as to when GM might make the decision to pull their sponsorship of Penn State athletics but with the start of the football season only a few weeks away – it could be an announcement that comes very quickly. Once it does, it will be interesting to see how other automakers respond on both the corporate and regional levels.
Source: Automotive News