ESPN Purchase, Multi-Sponsorships, Rojas' Streak Highlight Season

NEW ORLEANS, La. --- July 26, 2001 - As the 31st annual BASS Masters Classic approaches, the sport's biggest tournament and celebration provides the perfect opportunity to reflect back on the memorable year that the BASSMASTER Tournament Trail has enjoyed.

The past year just might rank as the most remarkable in the history of B.A.S.S.

The highlight of the year has to be the purchase of B.A.S.S., Inc. by the Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN, in April. Having ESPN provide the momentum behind the future of professional bass fishing has infected everyone associated with the sport with a renewed excitement about the future.

"This is very exciting for B.A.S.S., our membership and our sport," B.A.S.S. Executive Vice President and General Manager Helen Sevier said. "We are thrilled to team with an organization such as ESPN that has extensive multi-media resources, enormous promotional power and a track record for growing properties."

"I'm excited for the future of the sport..." added Ray Scott, B.A.S.S. founder and now a product consultant for Triton Boats, an official Classic sponsor. "With ESPN's commitment to outdoor programming, and its highly visible promotional means, the opportunities to grow the interest and advertising support for bass fishing has never been brighter."

ESPN officials didn't wait long to offer a glimpse of the future when they announced plans to provide same-day coverage approximately 30 minutes after the end of competition all three days of the Classic - as well as updates from the launch site during the ESPN Outdoors programming Saturday morning on ESPN2. This is ground-breaking coverage for fishing's biggest event.

The outdoor community has strongly responded to the ESPN involvement as well. For the first time in its 33-year history, B.A.S.S. is enjoying multiple boat and outboard sponsors, beginning with this summer's Classic.

Skeeter and Triton are the official boats of the BASSMASTER Tournament Trail, while Yamaha joined longtime sponsor Mercury as the officially licensed outboard motors of the oldest and most prestigious professional fishing circuit in the world. In addition, Bass Cat and G3 boat companies are associate sponsors of the tour.

 "The recent acquisition of B.A.S.S. by ESPN will expand on B.A.S.S.' already reputable media capabilities, thus creating new venues through which Mercury engines can be showcased," said  John Hoagland, Mercury's vice president of marketing. "We'll love the increased national visibility for our brand, and frankly, I believe this new B.A.S.S. platform will allow our product lines to shine."

This was also a year when reigning Classic champion Woo Daves traveled around the world and proved to be one of the sport's most popular champions. Daves was also honored by NASCAR at the NAPA 500 race in Atlanta.

On the water, Mark Davis captured his third B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year award, but his heroics were overshadowed by the sensational season enjoyed by Dean Rojas. The Arizona pro completely turned around a dreadful fall start on the BASSMASTER Tour by winning two consecutive tournaments and finishing third and second in the final events.

"It's just been an amazing year for me," Rojas said. "I think back to how much I learned reading BASSMASTER Magazine when I was 10 years old in my bed at night with a flashlight. Just trying to pick up all the little techniques that I could. I've been wanting to do this ever since I was a little boy. A 13-year-old having a dream. When you watch Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn, Denny Brauer and Gary Klein on TV, you just think 'Man, those guys are awesome.' Then all of a sudden, I'm fishing against them. What can I say?"

Only a Classic championship could top Rojas' spectacular season.

"I'm very excited about the Classic," he said. "I like all of the momentum I have going in. It's the greatest show on Earth. It's everything you ever thought it would be and more. And I couldn't ask to be going in it any better than I am right now - full of confidence, fishing well and making good decisions. I want to win it."

On Aug. 2-4, the 45 Classic contenders will be fishing for a $100,000 top prize and the most important title in the sport. Winning the Classic is the high-water mark in professional fishing and an accomplishment that has rewarded past winners with as much as $1 million in residual earnings.  The Classic is the championship event of the BASSMASTER Tournament Trail.

By sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide, B.A.S.S. is the world's largest fishing organization. The BASSMASTER Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit. It continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism, and sportsmanship after more than three decades.  B.A.S.S. is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESPN.

The BASS Masters Classic is a week-long celebration for those who love the sport of bass fishing. Notable activities during the 2001 Classic Week in New Orleans include the Kids Klassic which takes place on Wednesday, August 1st at Lafreniere Park.  The event is highlighted by a Meet the Pros autograph session from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  The Kids Klassic takes place from 9 a.m. to noon.

Sponsors of the 2001 BASS Masters Classic include: Chevrolet Trucks, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Pennzoil Marine, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Stowaway Batteries, Kumho Tires, Long John Silvers, Gore-Tex Outwear, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Bass Pro Shops, Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools, GMAC Vehicle & Boat Insurance, B.A.S.S. Platinum First USA Visa Card.

Associate Sponsors include: Bass Cat Boats, G3 Boats

The 2001 BASS Masters Classic is presented locally in conjunction with: the State of Louisiana, Jefferson Parish Tourism and Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.