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Suzuki Puts Stamp On Heisman

First the Rose Bowl, now the Heisman Trophy.

Last season, the Rose Bowl gave in to corporate sponsorship and was renamed the Rose Bowl, presented by AT&T.

The Heisman Trophy hasn't gone that far, but it now has a big-time sponsor for the first time.

American Suzuki signed a three-year, $1.5 million deal on Monday with the Downtown Athletic Club -- the presenter of the trophy -- and became the chief sponsor of the award.

No corporate tag will appear before or after the words Heisman Trophy, Rudy Riska, executive director of the Heisman Trophy said.

The DAC, which emerged from bankruptcy in June, has presented the Heisman since 1935. The trophy is awarded to college football's top player.

Also, Suzuki signed a three-year, $35 million deal with Time Warner in a marketing partnership to promote the Heisman. Part of the promotion allows fans to have a voice -- albeit a small one -- in who wins.

A panel of 992 sports writers, broadcasters, coaches and former Heisman winners vote, and the fans voting at Suzuki dealerships will get the 993rd vote.

DAC president Bill Dockery said the arrangement was not a move toward more extensive fan balloting.

"We're not going to do anything to compromise the integrity of the award," Dockery said.

"We see it benefiting us in several ways," Riska said. "First, it promotes the old-time Heisman winners, it gets the public involved and the money will help us expand our programs with high school kids."

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