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Penn State Loses 20-Year Sponsor in State Farm

Child abuse scandal starts to rock marketers tied to PSU football

Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images

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State Farm will not be a Penn State football advertiser this season for the first time in nearly 20 years due to the child sex abuse scandal that's plagued the school for months. Dating back to the early 1990s, the Bloomington, Ill.-based insurer has been an in-stadium and radio broadcast sponsor for the embattled college program.

First reported by the Huffington Post earlier today (July 24), a State Farm spokesperson confirmed the report via an email: “[We] will continue to support NCAA football as we have for years. However, State Farm will not directly support Penn State football this year.”

The spokesperson said the decision was made prior to Monday, when the NCAA severely punished Penn State for allegedly enabling former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of young boys. The football team received one of the heaviest sets of sanctions on a college team in the NCAA’s century-long history. State Farm said it would continue to sponsor other Penn State sports, such as men’s basketball.

Sherwin-Williams and Cars.com both pulled ad buys with Penn State's media properties back when the scandal first broke in November 2011. Due to the deplorable nature of the crimes involved, it’s possible that other brands will follow State Farm's lead and cancel ads for 2012 Penn State football. That's not going to be particularly easy for the university to stomach; according to Penn State's records, the football program accounts for more than half (51 percent) of the PSU athletic department’s total revenue—$58.9 million of $116.1 million in FY 2011.

At press time, the school hadn’t responded to information requests.