Wednesday Jan. 7, 2009
DENVER (AP) -- The days of walking into Home Depot and having an Olympic gold medalist help you pick out paint could be coming to an end.
The Atlanta-based home store says it's ending its multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee. It's also discontinuing a program that offered jobs and benefits to American athletes.
The 86 athletes currently in the program will be offered traditional part-time jobs at their current stores, or the chance to interview for full-time jobs.
Under the program they performed on flexible schedules, depending on their Olympic regimens.
To make up for the financial loss, the USOC plans to provide stipends to winter athletes who are in the program through January 2010 and a one-time, $5,000 stipend to summer athletes. It will also provide health insurance that the athletes might lose if they scale back or quit their Home Depot jobs.
Home Depot had been a USOC sponsor and provider of the Olympic Job Opportunity Program since 1992.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)