AT&T announced Tuesday it was suspending its sponsorship of USA Gymnastics in the wake of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal, joining several other companies who have pulled out of supporting the embattled organization.
The phone company said it is pulling its sponsorship until the organization rebuilds to ensure its “athletes are in a safe environment,” according to a statement obtained by USA Today.
“The terrible abuse suffered by these young women is unconscionable,” the company said, referring to Nassar’s abuse of more than 150 girls and women. “We remain committed to helping these young athletes pursue their dreams and hope to find other ways to do so. We stand ready to step back in when USAG has fully addressed these tragic events."
AT&T joined Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, Hershey’s and Under Armour, some of USA Gymnastics biggest sponsors, each of which did not renew their deals with the organization in December, Orange County Register first reported. Under Armour ended its contract early, which was expected to run through the 2020 Summer Olympics, according to ESPN.
USA Gymnastics faced major backlash after scores of women and girls said they were abused by Nassar, the former team doctor who was also a Michigan State trainer.
USA Gymnastics also announced Monday its executive leadership – Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder & Treasurer Bitsy Kelley — resigned to "move forward in implementing change within our organization."
“We support their decisions to resign at this time. We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization,” Kerry Perry, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics said in a statement.
Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison.
“I just signed your death warrant,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said during the sentencing.
Nassar pleaded guilty to assaulting seven people in the Lansing area and had already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography charges. More than 80 women, including Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, gave victim impact statements describing the abuse they endured at the hands of Nassar.
Many people blamed USA Gymnastics for failing to stop Nassar throughout the years. On Monday, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson also slammed USA Gymnastics, saying the organization failed to protect its athletes and was too concerned about winning gold medals.
“Knowing that USA Gymnastics has failed their athletes so terribly disappoints me and makes me so incredibly angry," Johnson said in a YouTube video titled "I am disgusted." "The fact that any of this has ever happened shows that USA Gymnastics has failed as a governing body to protect the athletes that it supports and claims to care about."