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The Strange Twist Of Rocco Mediate's Sponsor

Tuscany Reserves
Tuscany Reserves

After big-time exposure from an event like the U.S. Open, I normally give a sponsor update for the winner (yeah, I know Tiger was carrying a Gatorade to accept the trophy).

But even though Rocco Mediate lost out to Tiger Woods on the 91st-hole of an epic battle, the story behind one of his sponsors is among the most intriguing I've ever seen.

As I mentioned earlier today, Rocco Mediate's main sponsor Callaway Golf which has been hovering around 52-week lows. But it can't get much more awkward than the company that sponsors Rocco's right chest--WCI.

WCI, the troubled homebuilder, sold the community where Mediate lives--Tuscany Reserve--to foreign investors for $65 million last month. The development is in Naples, Fla., among the hardest hit of all U.S. cities in terms of the mortgage fallout.

Tuscany Reserve was originally supposed to sell some homes for $2 million to $5 million, but homes can now be found for less than $1 million. One residence in the community--2,349 square feet--is listed on the company's Web site for $908,850. The Naples Daily News last said that WCI originally had permits for 530 homes, but only built 30. The golf course is co-designed by Greg Norman and Pete Dye.

Here's Rocco's wife Linda in a brochure for the community: "The Tuscany Reserve lifestyle is so perfect for the whole family that there seemed to be no adjustment period. Rocco is Italian, we live in a place that is reminiscent of the Italian countryside and our children are happy. We feel like we've always lived here."

So despite all the exposure, Mediate's advertisement for WCI is kind of useless. What's he going to say? WCI lost $85.1 million in the first quarter of 2008 and more than $500 million for all of 2007.

This past Friday, WCI--whose largest shareholder is Carl Icahn--formed a board to evaluate restructuring proposals. Shares of the homebuilder were at nearly $24 a share in Feb. 2007. It has been trading at less than $2 a share for more than a month.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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