A-Rod, Reebok set to part ways

Updated: April 15, 2005, 8:57 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

The most marketable star in men's tennis is about to switch teams.

Sources tell ESPN.com that Andy Roddick is close to signing a deal with Lacoste. Terms of the possible deal are unknown, but the SportsBusiness Journal reported on Friday that a multi-year deal could be worth $5 million per year.

The 22-year-old American has been associated with Reebok since he was 10 years old. He most recently signed a five-year deal with the shoe and apparel company in May 2000.

But Reebok announced on Friday that the two decided to go their separate ways.

"As our contract came to a close, and after carefully considering what is in the best interest of our business, Reebok has elected not to continue this partnership," Dennis Baldwin, Reebok's chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

Although Lacoste has its roots in tennis, its endorsers in the sport have slipped in recent years.

The French company recently focused its efforts on signing European players to deals. Its lead endorser, Sebastien Grosjean, finished five straight years in the top 20 but is now ranked No. 32 and has not won a title in more than two years. Arnaud Clement is ranked No. 107, with a losing record this year, and Spaniard Alex Corretja is currently ranked No. 132 and coming off his worst year in more than a decade.

For those paying close attention, Roddick might have hinted at the future deal when he reportedly showed up at a party last week in a Lacoste shirt. So as not to compromise his current apparel deal, Roddick covered the familiar Lacoste crocodile with a Band-Aid.

Lacoste executives seem to be interested in spending more money to associate the brand with the tennis world. The company recently lost out in the bidding to competitor Polo Ralph Lauren to become the official apparel sponsor of the U.S. Open.

Jean Rene Lacoste, the brand's founder who, in 1926 and 1927, was the top-ranked tennis player in the world, founded the company in 1933. The crocodile that appears on the company's products was Lacoste's nickname.

The company not only makes clothing but also designer shoes, cologne, eyewear, underwear and watches.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.rovell@espn3.com.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter