ESPN has signed an agreement with The Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC) to be the exclusive multimedia and announcement partner of the John R. Wooden Award, the preeminent men’s collegiate basketball player of the year award. The restaurant chain Wendy’s will serve as the presenting sponsor of the Award and ESPN’s season-long coverage.
The Wooden Award was created in 1976 by the LAAC to honor the ideals of UCLA’s legendary coach, John Wooden, the year after he retired at the top of his profession. This most prestigious individual honor in college basketball is bestowed upon the country’s most outstanding player exemplifying Coach Wooden’s ideal of the “total basketball player,” who is also making progress towards earning his degree.
ESPN’s agreement with the LAAC includes increased content across multiple platforms around major milestone points in the Award voting cycle, including the Pre-Season Top 50 candidates list, the Midseason Top 25 candidates and the 10-player Wooden Award All American Team. The coverage will culminate with the announcement of the John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year during the Men’s Final Four Weekend.
Wendy’s Wooden Watch features will provide consistent updates on the players to watch throughout the season across ESPN’s TV, digital and radio assets as well as ESPN The Magazine. On television, segments will be included on SportsCenter, College Basketball GameDay, College Basketball GameDay ScoreBoard, College Basketball Live and in-game during the college basketball season. Wendy’s will also serve as the sponsor of Rivalry Week, which precedes ESPN’s extensive conference championship tournaments coverage.
ESPN’s college basketball focused digital sections will also feature Wendy’s Wooden Watch vignettes and updates throughout the season, including WatchESPN, GameCast and the College Basketball sections online and on ESPN’s mobile web site. The media schedule across ESPN Radio includes The Scott Van Pelt Show and other popular programs like Mike & Mike In The Morning and The Herd with Colin Cowherd. Wendy’s Wooden Watch will run in ESPN The Magazine throughout the season, beginning with the college basketball preview issue on Nov. 12.
“We are thrilled to have partnered with ESPN, the premier source for season-long coverage of college basketball. The selection of a player as the John R. Wooden Award winner is about the journey from opening tip to final buzzer of a spectacular season. Wendy’s sponsorship will allow fans to make that journey with the candidates,” said Steve Hathaway, President of The Los Angeles Athletic Club.
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the All American recipients. The Award has also sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to weeklong college basketball camps in the Award’s name. Voted upon by nearly 1,000 members of the media, previous John R. Wooden Award winners include Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan and Michael Jordan.
Added Eric Johnson executive VP Multimedia Sales from ESPN, “This collaboration allows us to surround the lead-up to the Wooden Award like never before. Wendy’s heritage and culture are a great match with the values of Coach Wooden and the ‘total basketball player.’ It’s a great way to honor his legacy and the players who strive to fulfill the Wooden ideals.”
The agreement between ESPN and LAAC was initiated by Jed Petrick of Balleehoo, Inc.