AT&T Drops Tiger Woods

AT&T becomes latest sponsor to drop disgraced golfer.

December 11, 2009, 1:17 PM

Dec. 31, 2009— -- AT& has become the latest sponsor to drop its endorsement deal with Tiger Woods after revelations that the legendary golfer engaged in multiple extramarital affairs.

"We are ending our sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods and wish him well in the future," the telecommunications giant said in a statement released today.

AT&T follows Accenture, the consulting firm, which said Dec. 13 it had dropped Woods as a spokesman. Accenture said that Woods was "no longer the right representative" for the firm.

"For the past six years, Accenture and Tiger Woods have had a very successful sponsorship arrangement and his achievements on the golf course have been a powerful metaphor for business success in Accenture's advertising," Accenture wrote. "However, given the circumstances of the last two weeks, after careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising. Accenture said that it wishes only the best for Tiger Woods and his family."

Shaving company Gillete has also distanced itself from the golf superstar, saying earlier this month that it was "limiting [Woods'] role in our marketing programs."

Companies began backing away from Woods after he announced Dec. 11 that he would take "an indefinite break from professional golf" to deal with family issues, most likely spurred by published claims of at least 11 extramarital affairs and links to prostitutes.

With a roster of high-profile endorsements such as Nike, Woods became the first athlete to earn $1 billion, so his golf hiatus could mean major financial hits both for him and the PGA Tour.

Tiger Woods' Fall From Grace 'the Greatest ... in Sports History'

Woods' formerly sterling public image began to lose its luster after he crashed his Cadillac Escalade outside his home in Florida on Nov. 27 at 2:25 a.m.

According to the official story, an unconscious Woods was rescued by his wife, Elin Nordegren, who heard the crash and used a golf club to smash the vehicle's rear window and pull him to safety.

But there were unconfirmed media reports that Woods left the house after arguing with Nordegren, and soon afterwards, extramarital affair reports began to pile up.

"This is the greatest fall from grace, in my opinion, of anybody in sports history," ABC News sports consultant and USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan told "World News" Saturday. "Tiger was such a cultural icon, crossing over from sports into society in such a big way."

Through it all, Woods said little -- save for a few brief statements through his Web site or intermediaries.

Woods use of the word "infidelity" official Web site late Friday amounted to his first public admission that he was unfaithful to Nordegren.

"I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children," he wrote. "I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try."

Woods seemed to acknowledge in the same message Friday that he expected a tough road professionally, as well as personally, as a result of his decision "to take an indefinite break from professional golf" in order to repair his marriage.

In his statement, he asked his associates "including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding."

The Woods team has been in touch with Woods' sponsors as the scandal has swirled around him, Woods' agent Mark Steinberg said Friday.

"It would be both premature and inappropriate to comment on the status of specific business relationships," Steinberg said in a prepared statement. "Suffice it to say, we have had thoughtful conversations and his sponsors have been open to a solution-oriented dialogue. Of course, each sponsor has unique considerations and ultimately, the decisions they make we would fully understand and accept."

Some Tiger Woods Associates Pledge 'Full Support'

Nike and EA Sports earlier this month suggested they are making no changes regarding their relationships with Tiger.

"Tiger has been part of Nike for more than a decade," Nike spokeswoman Beth Gast said. "He is the best golfer in the world and one of the greatest athletes of his era. We look forward to his return to golf. He and his family have Nike's full support."

"We respect that this is a very difficult, and private, situation for Tiger and his family," read the statement from EA Sports. "At this time, the strategy for our Tiger Woods PGA Tour business remains unchanged."

The PGA Tour also said it backed Woods' plan "to step away from competitive golf to focus on his family," but added, "We look forward to Tiger's return"

Woods' absence will be a tremendous blow to golf. When he missed eight months last year after knee surgery, TV ratings fell by 50 percent.

Connell Barrett, who has written about Woods for Golf magazine, said the longer Woods is gone, the worse it will be for the PGA.

"The ratings definitely will be lower," Barrett said. "I imagine the galleries will be smaller. And eventually, if he stays off the tour for an extended time, the purses will be smaller. Because with Tiger Woods in the field, there's people, which equals more dollars."

Fellow golfer John Daly spoke bluntly earlier this month of the prospect of pro golf without Woods.

"It would survive, but not to what it is when Tiger plays," Daly said. "Because of Tiger is why we're playing with so much money."

ABC News' Ron Claiborne, John Berman, Sharde Miller and Dan Arnall contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events