stanford

This fine young gentleman to the left is none other than Sir Robert Allen Stanford. Sir Bob has an estimated net worth of about $2.2 billion dollars, though I’m sure that number will drop in the coming months. The Security and Exchange Commission as of a week ago filed fraud and multiple violations of the U.S. securities laws for “massive ongoing fraud” through a number of his companies and, unfortunately for you, me and every other golf fan this is troubling.

Sir Bob is a big promoter of professional sports, most notably to golf fans with his company’s sponsorship of the PGA event in Memphis and the LPGA’s end of the season event. Not only does Stanford sponsor these events, but they also sponsor some individual golfers including, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Henrik Stenson, and LPGA golfer Morgan Pressel. This is where I’m going to go off on a tangent for a second because I’m somewhat heated about the player sponsorships specifically.

While the Eagles for Saint Jude program is GREAT and Sir Robert Allen Stanford is an extremely generous philanthropist, the SEC charges and the freezing all of the assests of his companies, which included the assests of some of his sponsorees is what is driving me crazy. Henrik Stenson had signed a three year endorsement deal with Stanford Financial in June of 2008 which included a substantial amount of his personal earnings invested with the group as well as a large sum of his savings.  And now, that money is now part of the assests of Stanford Financial that are frozen by the SEC.

The point I’m getting at is that  Stenson, while a great golfer with the ability and mindset to win, had to have been distracted.  If my estimated winnings were around $11 million dollars and had sponsorships on top of that, and they were suddenly frozen a week before a great tournment like this, there would definitely be a specter looming.  How could you really focus if you couldn’t pay your bills for a week or so and you didn’t know if that money you had saved for retirement was going to be returned?

While I can’t substantially prove that his loss was a direct result of this debacle, one could only imagine the frustration that must ensue when you have tens of millions of dollars suddenly frozen.  The impact of the Stanford fraud is being felt in other arenas as well, most notably with Stanford’s connection to baseball mega-agent, Scott Boras and his high profile clients like Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady and Carlos Pena.  While golf might be the most affected because of the sheer amount of things and people their logo appears on, it’s hardly limited to just this.  But back to golf…

Our favorite friend Tim Finchem spoke out in response to the troubles at Stanford Financial by stating that, “…we want to categorically state that the PGA Tour event in Memphis will be played as scheduled this year.” Therefore come, June 11th to the 14th we will still have an event. Though the sponsorship is most likely up in the air, we’ll still see some of our favorite players at TPC Southwind this year. The only problem is that it IS a week before The U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, so we’ll what kind of field they will put together.

Whatever the fallout from the SEC allegations are, I’m sure the sports world will be hurting a little more than they already are from the economic downturn we’ve see in the last year or so. Hopefully this unfortunate turn of events will allow for someone to step up and take the reigns from Stanford Financial in order to provide the needed sponsorship for events in the future, whatever it may bring.

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