Huskers cut off deal with TransCanada
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln athletic department ended the sponsorship agreement Wednesday after fans and others complained.
"I want to make it clear that the athletic department has no position, either pro or con, regarding the proposed TransCanada Pipeline," Athletic Director Tom Osborne said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
Osborne said the athletic department's marketing partner, IMG College, and the Husker Sports Network signed the sponsorship arrangement with TransCanada in April, before the proposed Keystone XL pipeline became so controversial.
"We have certain principles regarding advertising in the stadium such as no alcohol, tobacco or gambling advertisements. We also avoid ads of a political nature," he said. "Over the last two or three months, the pipeline issue has been increasingly politicized. Our athletic events are intended to entertain and unify our fan base by providing an experience that is not divisive."
He said he regretted having to end the sponsorship deal, adding that TransCanada and IMG/Husker Sports Network had acted honorably and "with best intentions."
TransCanada spokesman Jeff Rauh said the company was disappointed by the decision. "We're proud to be active members in the community and sponsors of Husker football," he said. "Our sponsorship of the Huskers is something that our employees have encouraged and valued."
He said TransCanada has offices in Omaha and has had a presence in Nebraska since the early 1980s. The company has received supportive comments about its Husker sponsorship from landowners and other pipeline stakeholders, Rauh said.
TransCanada plans to divert the money it would have spent on its Husker sponsorship toward nonprofits in Nebraska. Rauh said the company donated $137,000 in Nebraska in 2010 and $500,000 since 2007. "We'll redeploy those funds for other purposes here in the state," he said.
Those who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline say the video attempted to draw connections between the Huskers' tradition of strong offensive lines and TransCanada. They said it was unfair for the company to attempt to associate itself with Husker football when it was in the midst of trying to gain approval for its controversial pipeline.
The pipeline would carry Canadian oil across Nebraska and several other states and cross the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies water for drinking and irrigation to parts of several states.
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