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Stanford Financial's Big Play In Sports

Tuesday, 17 Feb 2009 | 4:56 PM ET

The sports world is reeling today after the SEC accused Robert Allen Stanford of the Stanford Financial Group of massive fraud.

Stanford made huge investments in the sports sponsorship world, so much so that the London Times recently named Stanford the 65th most powerful person in the business of British sports.

The athlete with the most to lose is golfer Vijay Singh, who signed a big sponsorship deal with Stanford earlier this year. Stanford is the sole logo that appears on Singh's hat and shirt. Singh's agent Clarke Jones did not return calls for comment, so it is not known how much money Singh got up front or whether he invested any money with the firm.

Other golfers said to have relationships with Stanford include Henrik Stenson, Camilo Villegas and Morgan Pressel. Villegas wears the Stanford Financial logo on the side of his cap.

Stanford Financial recently pulled out money from his worldwide cricket tournment called the Stanford Twenty20 Super Series. But there are many more deals that are still active.

Stanford is one of many host sponsors of the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open, the fifth largest tennis event in the world which will take place from March 23-April in Florida. Tournament director Adam Barrett said that it's most likely that Stanford paid up for the majority of its 2009 sponsorship bill. "We're hearing about this along with the rest of the world today," Barrett told us. Stanford Financial has been a sponsor of the tournament for five years.

More exposed, certainly for the future, will be the PGA Tour's Stanford St. Jude Championship, which will be played June 11-14 in Memphis. PGA Tour spokesman Chris Smith said the tour has no comment at this time. The company started sponsoring the tournament in 2007.

There are so many deals here we simply didn't have time to reach out to others before the business day ended. Stanford Financial has a commitment to sponsor the year-ending LPGA Championship and a big naming rights deal with the Miami Heat. The company sponsors one of the entrances to the American Airlines Arena, where the Heat play and they have co-sponsored many events with the team, including a recent Miami Heat Celebrity Cook-Off Event last month.

Update: IMG spokesman Dave Haggith said the firm won't comment on Singh's deal with Stanford.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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