McConnell Campaign Again Pulls Web Ad Featuring NCAA Basketball Players

Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Updated: March 25, 2014, 8:22 PM

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) campaign on Tuesday pulled a web ad that featured college basketball players out of concerns that it may have violated National Collegiate Athletic Association rules.

“We figured we had shot ourselves in the foot enough for one day, so we took the the web video down as soon as a fair use questions popped up to avoid any misunderstandings,” McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton told TPM in an email on Tuesday.

The web ad initially featured Duke University players celebrating their 2010 NCAA Championship victory. The spot was quickly taken down and replaced with a new ad that featured the University of Kentucky’s Julius Randle instead of Duke’s Lance Thomas and Jon Scheyer, who hail from the state of North Carolina.

The mistake spurred questions over whether the campaign could use the footage at all.

According to Kentucky’s WFPL, NCAA by-laws prohibit student athletes from making explicit or implicit endorsements. If an athlete’s image is used unbeknownst to them, the athletes have to “take steps to stop such activity in order to retain his or her eligibility.”

The McConnell campaign released a formal statement Tuesday evening. McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said the following:

Earlier today, issues related to the use of NCAA images in a web video created by an outside vendor for our campaign were brought to our attention.

The video was taken down immediately after questions were raised.

Since that time, we have received correspondence from the University of Kentucky, we have spoken with them, and the matter has been resolved.

To be clear, neither the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville nor any student-athlete was aware of any image used in this video, and actions have been taken with the vendor to ensure this never happens again.

We have also reached out to the University of Louisville to make sure they are aware of the situation and offered our full cooperation to clear up any misunderstanding.

It was our intention to honor our great Kentucky basketball traditions. Our campaign apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused.

In a separate statement, University of Kentucky Deputy Athletic Director A. DeWayne Peevy said Randle’s presence in the revised ad did not violate NCAA rules. Kentucky, however, sent a cease and desist letter, Peevy said. Here’s Peevy’s statement:

The University of Kentucky consulted with the NCAA earlier today regarding footage of Julius Randle in a Mitch McConnell advertisement. Although the use of the student-athlete’s image in the advertisement is not permissible, because it was done without the knowledge or permission of the university or the student-athlete, it is not an NCAA violation. The University of Kentucky has sent a cease and desist letter and will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure improper usage of a student-athlete’s name, image or likeness is prevented.

Latest DC
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: