Shaq is a man capable of many things, but some feel the NBA legend is not corporate pizza chain leadership material. According to a report in Bloomberg, his brief tenure on the board of pizza conglomerate may be coming to an end because he simply hasn’t shown up to enough meetings.
Shaq joined the company’s board of directors last June in an attempt to rehab the company’s image following John Schnatter’s using a racial slur on a diversity-themed conference call. The company’s founder and namesake resigned and saw his presence removed from Louisville University while the pizza chain brought in O’Neal and focused on its individual franchisees as it tried to move forward in a post-Papa world. Schnatter, meanwhile, rehabbed his body by eating 40 pizzas in 30 days and issuing new eating challenges for himself while essentially unemployed.
The Shaq experience hasn’t been a very positive one for some in the corporate pizza world, however, as a report indicates Shaq just hasn’t been around enough to justify his position on the board.
O’Neal, the four-time National Basketball Association champion, attended less than 75% of the pizza company’s board and committee meetings over the last year, investment adviser Institutional Shareholder Services said in a Thursday report. Because of that record, ISS is asking investors vote against his re-election at the scheduled April 23 annual meeting — the only such recommendation among members of that board.
O’Neal has a number of other ventures in motion, first and foremost with his Inside The NBA gig on TNT. He’s also a touring musician and has various other endorsement deals, but a spot on a company’s board has its own unique responsibilities. Some clearly think he’s skirting those and his presence, positive PR as it is, may not justify the hassle. According to the report, however, these conflicts would be clear in the future because he now, well, knows he’s got board meetings to attend.
O’Neal was unable to attend several board meetings due to business and broadcasting commitments made prior to his appointment to the board, which couldn’t be rescheduled, the company said in a proxy filing ahead of the annual meeting. The scheduling conflicts are not expected to recur in 2020, Papa John’s said in the filing.
The June 2019 announcement was a pretty big deal, as a company dealing with a racism-based PR crisis hired one of the most popular athletes in America for a major forward-facing role. A Papa John’s in Atlanta even rebranded itself to essentially be Shaq-themed last year when he signed on with the company. In other words, it won’t be easy to untangle Papa John’s from Shaq, and unless the company feels it’s moved past its public relations problems there will be some reaction to his official dismissal. Here’s hoping that if they do cut Shaq loose, he retaliates with a pizza-themed diss track. There’s plenty of material to work with here.