The ingredients here go back to 2008 and the infamous barbecue hosted by former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl. One of the people in attendance that fateful day was future Ohio State basketball player Aaron Craft, who was being recruited by the Vols at the time. A picture of Craft at Pearl’s house later surfaced, the NCAA got involved and Pearl, in essence, wound up getting fired for lying about it.
Fast forward to present day and a radio ad done for Calhoun’s, a Knoxville barbecue chain. In the commercial, Steven Pearl, son of Bruce, says ”If there’s one thing we Pearls know, it’s how to throw a barbecue,” and later adds, ”absolutely no photography.” But the trouble comes in the disclaimer, where a separate voice says, “Offer not available to Aaron Craft.”
Using a student-athlete’s name or likeness is an NCAA no-no and that’s when Ohio State stepped in. “We have taken the necessary steps with all parties involved to alleviate any potential NCAA issues. Aaron Craft’s eligibility was never in danger. He had no knowledge nor provided consent,” said Ohio State associate athletic director of compliance Doug Archie.
What that likely involved was a “cease-and-desist” letter and presumably the ad will never run again. But, of course, the amount of free media attention the ad generated has far exceeded whatever budget the campaign had. Like many things in life, it’s far better to ask forgiveness than permission.