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Ohio State compliance requests Aaron Craft’s name be removed from funny radio ad

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

The only folks who didn't see the humor in a Knoxville barbecue chain's clever radio ad poking fun at former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl were members of the Ohio State compliance department.

They told Sporting News they intervened this week, requesting point guard Aaron Craft's name be removed from the ad out of fear the use of it could result in a minor NCAA violation. NCAA rules stipulate that a current student-athlete’s name or likeness cannot be used for commercial ventures.

"We have taken the necessary steps with all parties involved to alleviate any potential NCAA issues," Ohio State associate athletic director for compliance Doug Archie told Sporting News. "Aaron Craft's eligibility was never in danger. He had no knowledge nor provided consent."

Craft's name pops up in the commercial because of his role in the career-altering mistake that got Bruce Pearl fired as Tennessee's basketball coach.

Pearl hosted a backyard barbecue at his home for Craft while Tennessee was recruiting the point guard, a violation uncovered by the NCAA enforcement staff when they found pictures of the future Ohio State star at Pearl's home. Bruce Pearl later lied to NCAA investigators when questioned about the location of the barbecue, resulting in his firing.

In the radio ad, Steven Pearl, Bruce's son and host of a weekly show on Tennessee Sports Radio, begins by telling listeners "if there's one thing we Pearls know, it's how to throw a barbecue." Then after lauding the food at the restaurant chain, Pearl delivers this hilarious line: "Just remember, my two rules for legendary backyard barbecues – get your food from Calhoun’s and absolutely no photography."

The part of the commercial Ohio State has asked to be removed is the brilliant one-liner in the legal disclaimer at the end of Pearl's pitch. "Offer not available to Aaron Craft," it concludes.

Of course, the purpose of the radio ad obviously wasn't to get Craft in any trouble, but it's understandable Ohio State would send a cease and desist request. The school has endured enough trouble with the NCAA compliance issues recently. It doesn't need a clever but innocuous radio ad creating anymore.

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