Celebrity Golfers to Help Operation Iraqi Freedom Casualty Families

New York City, June 23 --- The American Century Championship, The Mark Cuban Foundation and NBA superstar Jason Kidd will combine forces with a goal to raise over $100,000 for families of soldiers killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, organizers announced today.

 The  funds will be donated to and administered by The Fallen Patriot Fund, an affiliate of The Mark Cuban Foundation, established by the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.  

The American Century Championship, the 14-year-old, pre-eminent celebrity golf tournament televised by NBC each summer, will raise funds through a variety of resources. A portion of the $500,000 purse won by players who retain their amateur status will be donated to the cause. Contributions from other companies, sponsors and the public will also be sought.  Mark Cuban is matching donations dollar for dollar up to $1 million.

 New Jersey Nets superstar guard Jason Kidd, fresh off his appearance in the NBA Finals, will donate his prize money from the tournament and he will also spearhead other fundraising efforts in Lake Tahoe during tournament week. It is anticipated that a host of other celebrities will participate with individual donations and/or prize money donations, potentially elevating the fundraising total to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 This is the second consecutive year that the tournament will raise significant monies  for an important charitable cause. Last year, The American Century Championship wrote a check for over $140,000 to the Uniformed Firefighters Association Scholarship Fund as part of a post-September 11th initiative that involved three New York City Firemen competing in the event alongside the big-name celebrities. Along with the donation, the publicity surrounding the tournament generated invaluable exposure to the under-funded New York City firefighter-related charity that provides educational support for the families of deceased New York City firefighters.

 As it did last year with the firemen’s scholarship fund, NBC Sports will integrate Fallen Patriot Fund information into the coverage of the golf tournament, generating invaluable exposure for a worthy cause that does not have a large fundraising staff.

 “Last year the sports and entertainment celebrities showed they knew who the real celebrities were when they raised $140,000 for the families of New York’s bravest,” said Michael Barr,  Senior Vice President, Corporate Marketing of American Century Investments, the Kansas City, MO-based title sponsor of the tournament. “This year, with the help of the Mark Cuban Foundation, we hope to exceed that figure and provide tangible support for the families of these fallen soldiers.”

 “We’ve established a tradition now of using this event as a vehicle for real impact on important causes,” stated Jon Miller, Senior Vice President, Program Planning for NBC Sports. “In one way or another, everyone involved in the event – players, sponsors, fans – will be touched by this effort.”

 “Once I tell all my buddies out there that Mark Cuban is matching every dollar, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of support coming to The Fallen Patriot Fund,” said Kidd. “This is what Mark wants to do and we’re going to help him do it.”

  The American Century Championship will switch to a Stableford scoring system for the 2003 event, distributing prize money according to the USGA–approved system which awards points  on strokes per hole. The change will enable the avid but less consistent stars to assert their go-for-it mentality and play to their shot-making strengths without having to focus on a low gross score. The 54-hole tournament, played at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course since its inception in 1990, will feature a field of over 78 celebrities.

 Coverage of the first round of the 54-hole American Century Championship will be provided by ESPN on Friday afternoon from 4-6 p.m. NBC Sports will telecast the tournament live on the weekend, with the second round on Saturday from 4-6 p.m. ET and final round on Sunday from 3-6 p.m. ET.


For further information, contact:

Steve Griffith                                                                             Phil Weidinger

Promo 1                                                                                    Weidinger Public Relations

610/363-0966 (East Coast)                                                         775/588-2412 (West Coast)