State Farm could pull sponsorship over new LPGA rule

The Sports Business Daily reports that State Farm is encouraging the LPGA to reconsider its new rule (starting next year all Tour players must learn English or face suspension from the Tour) or it “may reconsider its sponsorship.”
What’s ironic is that the LPGA says it’s making this rule so that it can help save sponsorship dollars by sending players who can speak English out with corporate sponsors on pro-am outings.

State Farm, a sponsor of the LPGA tour and the title sponsor of the LPGA State Farm Classic, is urging the LPGA to reconsider its plan to institute an English-language proficiency test, or State Farm “may reconsider its sponsorship,” according to Michael Bush of AD AGE. State Farm Media Relations Specialist Kip Biggs said of the plan, “It’s something we are dumfounded by. We don’t understand this and don’t know why they have done it, and we have strongly encouraged them to take another look at this.” Biggs said that the policy is “something that [State Farm] would take into consideration when deciding whether to continue its relationship with the league when its contract expires.” Biggs: “This policy does concern us greatly, and as you could imagine, when (the sponsorship) comes up for review, it’s something we’ll take into account when we look at either re-upping or walking away.” Meanwhile, Choice Hotels Int’l Senior Dir of Corporate Communications David Peikin, whose company is the official hotel partner of the LPGA, said, “We have a great deal of interest in the intentions of the LPGA on this subject. Based on our understanding, this policy is currently under review by the LPGA, and a final decision and any related details will be determined over the next four months. Until that time, we will be closely monitoring LPGA news and announcements.” Ketchum Sports Network Senior VP & Dir Ann Wool said that it was a “mistake for the LPGA not to talk to its sponsors before announcing the policy” (, 9/2).

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About Jill Painter

Jill Painter is a sports columnist for the Los Angeles News Group, covering everything from the Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, USC, UCLA, Kings, golf and all human interest stories in sports.