Cozen O’Connor, which boasted of a sponsorship deal with professional golfer Jason Kokrak three years ago, is now cutting ties with him amid news he is heading to a Saudi Arabia-funded golf tour.
Kokrak, who had served as a brand ambassador for Cozen since a 2019-sponsorship deal with the firm, confirmed this week he was leaving the PGA Tour to join the LIV Golf Tour. LIV is funded and supported by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.
Cozen has been long adverse to Saudia Arabia in long-running 9/11 litigation. Cozen lawyers have been fighting for more than a decade to force Saudi Arabia to pay for allegedly helping to fund and support the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Cozen’s clients include insurers that paid for the staggering losses caused by the attacks.
“In light of Mr. Kokrak’s affiliation with the new LIV Tour, we have mutually agreed he will no longer be an ambassador for Cozen O’Connor,” the firm said in a statement Thursday. “We wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Cozen executive chairman and CEO Michael Heller, speaking to Law.com on Thursday, said the firm’s ongoing litigation against the country was a factor in the firm’s decision. “The LIV tour is inconsistent with the mission and values of our firm,” he said in a brief interview. “Jason is a terrific young man and we wish him and his family well.”
The LIV Golf tour has sparked controversy since its inception for a number of factors. Several prominent golfers, such as Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed, in moving to LIV, have relinquished their PGA Tour membership, rocking the normally static golf world.
But the moves also have generated interest because of the role of Saudi Arabia, a country with a poor human rights record. The 2018 murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside a Saudi consulate in Istanbul has further created more controversy for any U.S. firm or company that has ties to the country.
In its 2019 announcement about the sponsorship, the firm struck an upbeat tone about the deal with Kokrak. In a statement at the time, Heller said he was “a perfect fit to wear the firm’s logo” and Kokrak’s “perseverance, dedication to being the best and his aggressive style of play match perfectly with the lawyers at Cozen O’Connor.”
On Thursday, Heller said that “sponsoring a pro golfer has been one of the most interesting, fun and unique branding ventures for us.” He added that the firm will “absolutely look to be involved in the PGA and LPGA tours moving forward.”
Kokrak couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.