ESPN "GameDay" Cast Members Fowler, Corso, Herbstreit Have Associations With Nike
Erin Andrews is "not the only ESPN personality" or member of its "College GameDay" team with a shoe sponsorship, as Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit all "have deals with Nike," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. Corso described the Nike relationship as a "joint arrangement that largely involves speaking engagements for the athletic shoe and apparel company." While Andrews and Reebok announced their partnership last month, Fowler, Corso and Herbstreit's deals with Nike "were never announced." ESPN VP/PR Josh Krulewitz said, "We were unaware of these deals." Krulewitz added Fowler is ending his association with Nike "to avoid any potential perception issues." But Corso contends that "his obligations to Nike were not burdensome and did not compromise his work." He said, "I might have Nike shoes on, but it’s got nothing to do with ‘College GameDay.'" Still, DePauw Univ.'s Prindle Institute for Ethics Dir Bob Steele believes that Nike’s tie to the "GameDay" announcers "creates potential conflicts of interest." ESPN noted that "it allowed reporters and personalities to sign endorsement deals on a case-by-case basis." Krulewitz said it is "common" for former players and coaches like Herbstreit and Corso to have endorsement deals after they become analysts. Sandomir notes ESPN "approved Andrews’s deal with Reebok while saying it would inform the audience if a conflict arises between her commercial and reporting roles." But last year, ESPN blocked college football reporter Jenn Brown from endorsing MillerCoors' Icehouse brand (N.Y. TIMES, 2/15).