Tiger Bungles Crisis Management 101 Police report on Woods’s car accident Tiger Woods’s Web site statement Digits: Tiger Takes to Web to Apologize Speakeasy: Woods Makes Public Statement Earlier: Woods Receives Traffic Citation Since then, Mr. Woods refused three times to meet with Florida police investigators, and canceled an appearance at his annual charity golf tournament. Over the weekend, he issued a short statement that said the car accident was his fault.
On Wednesday, the golfer came out swinging. From his Florida home, Mr. Woods acknowledged actions inconsistent with “my values and the behavior my family deserves.”
Mr. Woods, 33 years old, said he owed no explanation: “Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.”
Representatives for Mr. Woods declined to comment beyond the statement on his Web site.
His sponsors, whose endorsements total an estimated annual value of $90 million, said they continued to back Mr. Woods. “Tiger and his family have our support as they work through this private matter. Our partnership continues,” said a spokeswoman for PepsiCo’s Gatorade.
Nike Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette also stuck by Mr. Woods. “Nike supports Tiger and his family,” the company said Wednesday. “Our relationship remains unchanged.”
“That whole incident showed a different Tiger Woods to the public,” said James Bell, a senior partner at Lippincott, a New York-based brand consultancy.
The Tiger brand “has taken a huge hit,” said Bob Williams, chief executive of Burns Sports & Celebrities, an Evanston, Ill., company that helps match athletes with advertisers.
The crash drew wide interest over the holiday weekend as news outlets began to link the accident to a report in the National Enquirer that alleged Mr. Woods had an affair with a New York woman. Media reports suggested that the accident may have been triggered by an argument with Mr. Woods’s wife.
Allegations of other affairs surfaced Tuesday, including one woman claiming to have explicit messages from Mr. Woods.
In his statement Wednesday, Mr. Woods said he and his wife have been “hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives” since the crash. He rebutted suggestions that an argument preceded the accident.
Waiting until Wednesday to issue a statement about a scandal that started Friday was a tactical mistake, some crisis managers said. “The ideal in any crisis situation is to get something out within three hours, but certainly within 24 hours,” said Karen Doyne, co-leader of Burson-Marsteller’s crisis practice.
Sports agent Scott Boras — who represented Alex Rodriguez when the New York Yankees infielder said he took steroids earlier this year — said athletes should speak in public. “When people have the opportunity to see an individual and hear him express personal feelings, that’s always the strongest method of communication,” he said.
Evidence the scandal could blow over could be gleaned from the case of Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers star confessed to an affair with a woman who had accused him of rape. Nike maintained its ties with Mr. Bryant but stopped using him as a pitchman until he was cleared.
Robert Boland, a New York University sports law professor, said Mr. Woods’s endorsement contracts may include “moral turpitude” clauses that could be triggered if he acknowledges behavior that harms his image. Mr. Woods’s mention of unnamed “transgressions” might be a cautionary move, Mr. Boland said.
Mr. Woods has long been media shy and careful in interviews. “I’ve learned you can always tell the truth,” he told Sports Illustrated in 2000, “but you don’t have to tell the whole truth.”