SAN FRANCISCO — The foundation that runs the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am said Friday that it would stand by its "solid commitment" to AT&T despite Kathryn Crosby's offer to reconsider cutting the family's ties to the golf tournament if it turned down phone company sponsorship.
Mrs. Crosby reacted coolly to the statement, suggesting that there have been "whisperings of cash changing hands" to produce the decision.
Said Mrs. Crosby in a prepared statement: "There is obviously a marriage between these individuals (the foundation and AT&T) with the one missing element--as far as we know, there has been no agreement with AT&T and nothing in writing. If there was a legitimate offer instead of the paltry sum that had been earlier announced, where was it?"
AT&T offered $750,000 to sponsor the tournament, board president William Borland said. Mrs. Crosby said that since her announcement Monday she has been swamped by offers of financial backing from corporate leaders and entertainers that could raise millions of dollars for charity and boost the tournament's purse for the pro golfers.
"Seemingly, the Monterey directors have preferred, for mysterious reasons, some of which border on whisperings of cash changing hands to accept . . . a comparatively insignificant amount of money from this giant corporation," she said.
John Geoghegan, media relations manager for AT&T in New York, said that no one on the foundation board was paid or promised a finder's fee to obtain AT&T's sponsorship. An associate of Mrs. Crosby said she believed that Harry Holmes, who resigned last week as head of the board, had received such a fee of $50,000 to $150,000. Holmes denied the accusation.
"It became evident that the board needed someone to look over details of the negotiations with us, and they picked (Holmes)," Geoghegan said. "They said it would cost a certain amount of money to do that and we agreed that a payment would be added to the package deal with the foundation. That's probably where (Mrs. Crosby) got the idea about payment."
There is also a possibility that AT&T will now withdraw. The company has not committed to sponsoring the tournament and is reconsidering its offer in the aftermath of Mrs. Crosby's decision to remove Bing Crosby's name from the event.
"We haven't made up our minds," Geoghegan said. "We've been talking to (the foundation), but no more meetings are planned right now."