AT&T has suspended its sponsorship of USA Gymnastics in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal, the company announced on Tuesday.
AT&T joins Procter & Gamble, Hershey’s and Under Armour as sponsors that have left the beleaguered national governing body since December.
In a statement, AT&T said, “We notified USA Gymnastics today that we are suspending our sponsorship of the organization until it is re-built and we know that the athletes are in a safe environment. The terrible abuse suffered by these young women is unconscionable. 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’s decision comes after the Orange County Register reported last month that Procter & Gamble and Kellogg’s had not renewed their sponsorships of USA Gymnastics. ESPN reported in December that Hershey’s also did not renew its contract and that Under Armour ended its deal, which ran through the 2020 Olympics, early.
USA Gymnastics has faced withering criticism from women who have shared their stories of sexual abuse at the hands of former team doctor Larry Nassar over the past week in a Michigan courtroom.
On Tuesday, the sixth day of Nassar’s sentencing continued as 158 women and girls are expected to give statements to the court, according to the Lansing State Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Jordyn Wieber are among those who said Nassar, who was also a Michigan State physician, sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment.
Nassar pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and faces 25 to 40 years in prison in state court. He was already sentenced to 60 years in prison on federal child pornography charges.
Raisman has been particularly forceful in her criticism of USA Gymnastics, calling it an organization that is “rotting from the inside” during her victim statement to Nassar last week.
“To believe in the future of gymnastics is to believe in change. But how are we to believe in change when these organizations aren’t even willing to acknowledge the problem?” Raisman said in court. “It’s easy to put out statements talking about how athlete care is the highest priority. But they’ve been saying that for years, and all the while, this nightmare was happening.”
Following criticism from the women in court, USA Gymnastics announced on Monday that the leadership of its board of directors would resign.
MORE: USA Gymnastics top leadership resigns amid sexual abuse scandal
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Chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley submitted their resignations effective immediately. That decision came more than a week after U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and USOC chairman Larry Probst had called Parilla to USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Jan. 11 and told him he needed to resign, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting who are not authorized to discuss it because of the sensitivity of the issue.
"New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong. USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors," Blackmun said in a statement.
"The Olympic family failed these athletes, and we must continue to take every step necessary to ensure this never happens again.”
Former CEO and president Steve Penny, who was forced to resign in March, was the only person to be held publicly accountable until Monday's resignations.
The allegations against Nassar became public in August 2016, when Rachel Denhollander contacted the Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network, and said she’d been abused by Nassar. That led to dozens more accusations, along with the revelation that athletes had reported Nassar to Michigan State as early as 1997.