In mid-January, we notified you of the Reebok endorsement deal involving ESPN personality Erin Andrews. Was she the first ESPN member to endorse a sneaker brand? No. According to The New York Times, ESPN “College Gameday” broadcasters Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso have had deals with Nike for awhile. Corso described these agreements as ‘a joint arrangement that largely involves speaking engagements for the athletic shoe and apparel company’.
However, unlike Erin Andrews’ Reebok endorsement deal, Corso, Fowler and Herbstreit?s deals with Nike were never announced publicly.
?We were unaware of these deals,? ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said. Krulewitz also defended the broadcasters from any mischievous acts involving this subject matter. ?By any objective measure, Chris, Kirk and Lee?s on-air work is unassailable. Their content has not been compromised by this relationship.?
Specific details of these contract agreements have not been voiced publicly; yet, Nike spokesman Derek Kent shared a little bit of information in regards to the contract situation. ?While we don?t disclose the specific nature of our contracts,? Kent said, ?they have appeared as M.C.?s at various Nike events in the past.?
Although ESPN Josh Krulewitz stated that ‘their content has not been compromised by this relationship’, this news raises a handful of questions.
?It?s not just what?s said or written but what stories are covered and the frame for the story,? said Bob Steele, the director of the Prindle Institute for Ethics and a journalism professor at DePauw University. ?It?s the questions that are asked and not asked in an interview, and who gets interviewed.?
As of now, “College GameDay? host Chris Fowler is ?ending his minor association? with Nike ?to avoid any potential perception issues.?
What are your thoughts on ESPN broadcasters having shoe contracts with major brand? Does it shape, bend or alter their content or is it simply a way of expanding their individual brands? Let us know in the comment section below.