Former Indiana Univ. basketball players Bobby Wilkerson and Kent Benson yesterday unveiled "a commemorative branded line of products honoring" the school's undefeated '75-76 team, with a "portion of the proceeds benefitting four non-profit organizations," according to Kyle Neddenriep of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Products, memorabilia and collectibles will be available beginning today at 32and0.com. Wilkerson said that "both home and road jerseys of all 13 players will be available." There also will be "a team and player DVD series, among other items available online." Hoosier Oncology Group, Komen Central Indiana, Macon Mentor Academy and Help Indiana Vets "are the four non-profit organizations that will share in the proceeds." Wilkerson said that it "remains undetermined what percentage of the money will go to those organizations." Neddenriep notes the '75-76 IU team, the last men's college basketball team to go undefeated, was "recently voted the greatest single season college basketball team of all-time in a vote by NCAA.com, the United States Basketball Writers Association and sports information directors" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/30). Wilkerson "got the blessing of all his teammates" and former IU coach Bob Knight for the project. Wilkerson also "secured a license from IU to make and sell the products" (IBJ.com, 5/29).
Marketing and Sponsorship
49ers rookie and former Univ. of South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore has signed an endorsement deal with First Choice by Select Health of South Carolina, one of “several insurance companies that contracts with the state government to manage Medicaid plans” for residents across the state, according to Lauren Sausser of the Charleston POST & COURIER. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Lattimore's focus with the company will be “encouraging teens and young adults with a Medicaid plan to make appointments with their primary care doctors for free annual wellness visits.” Select Health will send a “taped message from Lattimore encouraging the wellness check-ups to about 7,500 First Choice patients ages 17 to 21 in mid-June.” The Select Health deal is “only one of many endorsements" that Lattimore has signed, including Under Armour and EAS Sports Nutrition (Charleston POST & COURIER, 5/29). In South Carolina, Gerry Melendez noted an interview with Lattimore will “appear in the summer issue of Healthy Now, a quarterly newsletter for First Choice members that will reach 130,000 households next month.” Interviews with Lattimore also will be available online (Columbia STATE, 5/29).
SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Tripp Mickle reports Hendrick Motorsports has “reconfigured the primary sponsorship plans” for driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Sprint Cup Series car, “allowing it to bump the first unsponsored race back from early this summer to July.” The first race the team “doesn’t have a sponsor for Earnhardt will be July 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway." Hendrick Motorsports VP/Marketing Pat Perkins said that the team is “optimistic it will find a sponsor between now and then.” Perkins: “We’re working on a couple of things right now with the potential to bring a program to life this year and extend it into the future.” He added that the team has “no plans to cut the price of sponsoring Earnhardt.” The team is looking for a 13-race sponsorship and sources “have pegged the price at more than $800,000 per race” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/27 issue).
CHATTING WITH THE CHAMP: IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan appeared on CNBC yesterday and talked about having Kevin Kalkhoven as a co-owner of his KV Racing team. CNBC's Maria Bartiromo noted Kalkhoven is a "well-known venture capitalist" and has "deep pockets." Kanaan, who won last Sunday's Indianapolis 500, said, "Racing's extremely expensive, so we know we need either a sponsor or somebody that has a deep pocket to fund it. Kevin's been a very successful businessman and he's a huge race fan." Geico had served as Kanaan's primary sponsor the last couple years before transitioning to an associate sponsorship this year. Kanaan said due to the floods around the U.S. last year, Geico "too a big hit, so they decided to pull back a bit." But he said, "As you can see, my shirt, it's probably covered with sponsors right now" ("Closing Bell With Maria Bartiromo," CNBC, 5/29).
YOUTH MOVEMENT: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jonathan Welsh reported Camping World and its Good Sam Enterprises travel-club unit have "agreed to sponsor" driver Darrell Wallace Jr. in 11 of his 18 remaining NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season. Camping World Chair & CEO Marcus Lemonis said that the decision to sponsor the 19-year-old African-American driver was "based mainly on his promising talent, not on a particular drive for diversity in NASCAR." But he said the decision carried "some element of social responsibility" (WSJ.com, 5/29).
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH: Furniture Row Racing GM Joe Garone, on his NASCAR team being based out of Denver as opposed to the Charlotte area, said, "It’s nice to be out here in Colorado. You're a little disconnected as far as from all the other shops." He noted the distance "brings a little peace and a lot of focus to our race team." Garone: "We are focused 100% on ourselves, on Kurt (Busch), on what we do to get him and the team moving forward. So it’s a real pleasure from that perspective for sure” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 5/29).
Reebok-CCM Hockey has signed Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin to multiyear deals. The three NHL prospects -- all expected to go in the top five picks of this year’s NHL Draft -- will exclusively use CCM equipment, including the RBZ skate and RBZ Stage 2 stick, which are being released on July 19. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed (Christopher Botta, Staff Writer).
TIME TO DRIVE THE BALL: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton reports MLB sponsor Chevrolet will be the title sponsor of the Home Run Derby this year. The move “expands Chevy’s MLB All-Star Game rights, which already encompass sponsorships of the annual Red Carpet Parade of players on MLB Network and the MLB All-Star Game MVP Award, the Fox pregame, and ads in the game telecast.” Activation plans are "incomplete” beyond the media buy. Chevy's deal for the Derby is only for '13. State Farm had titled the event the past six years (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/27 issue).
PROVE YOUR WORTH: ESPN DALLAS' Calvin Watkins cited a source as saying that Cowboys WR Dez Bryant "won't receive payment from the Jordan Brand for the first year" of a three-year deal. The source said that Bryant "wants to prove" to Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan "that he won't get into any trouble." If Bryant "can do that, he'll receive the salary in the second year of the deal" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 5/29).
FILL YOUR PLATE: In Memphis, Richard Locker reports Tennessee state Sen. Jim Kyle yesterday filed a bill "to create a Memphis Grizzlies specialty license plate." Proceeds from the plates "would support the Grizzlies Charitable Foundation, which funds youth sports and mentoring programs in Shelby County." The Tennessee legislature is "out of session until January, which means the measure cannot be approved until at least early 2014" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 5/30).
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