Papa John's advisor firm calls for Shaq's ouster after missing too many meetings

Pizza is fun. Board meetings probably aren’t.

Shaquille O’Neal joined the Papa John’s board of directors in March 2019, but a full year later he’s at risk of losing that position since a proxy firm is irritated he missed too many board meetings.

Firm advises Papa John’s to not re-elect Shaq

Investment advisor Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), a corporate governance firm, advised Papa John’s shareholders to vote against O’Neal’s reelection to the board, per Bloomberg. The firm cited O’Neal attending less than 75 percent of the board’s meetings over the past year.

The annual board meeting is April 23 and they can choose to not bring O’Neal back in his position.

Why was Shaq skipping meetings?

In the SEC filings, Papa John’s noted that every director attended at least 75 percent of the 16 meetings in 2019. Except for O’Neal.

But it also gave a perfectly good reason for the four-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer to have missed some of those meetings. Via the SEC filing:

“[O’Neal] was unable to attend several board meetings due to prior business and broadcasting commitments made prior to Mr. O’Neal’s appointment to the Board, which could not be rescheduled. The Company and Mr. O’Neal do not expect these scheduling conflicts to recur in 2020.”

O’Neal is not only a part of the NBA on TNT crew, he also has various sponsorships and endorsements that take up time. O’Neal owns restaurants in different cities, hosts Shaq’s Fun House events and performs as a DJ. Many of those commitments, including broadcasting schedules, were made before he officially joined the group.

O’Neal: ‘Pizza is fun’

Papa John’s announced O’Neal’s new position in March 2019 as it continued to move away from founder John Schnatter, who left the board after a string of missteps. The partnership included nine franchises for O’Neal and a $8.25 million payday over three years for the endorsement.

“Everyone loves pizza and pizza loves everyone,” O’Neal said on CNBC after the announcement.

“Pizza is fun,” he continued. “Everyone knows Shaquille O’Neal, they know I’m in the fun business, and we want to get this thing back on track.”

O’Neal became the first African American member of the board of directors. It was viewed as a major turning point for the company.

Former professional basketball player and Papa John's Board of Directors member, Shaquille O'Neal, teams up with Papa John's to celebrate the launch of the brand's all new Papadia at Shaq's Fun House on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 in Miami. (Manuel Mazzanti/AP Images for Papa John's Pizza)
Shaquille O'Neal is being criticized for skipping too many Papa John's board meetings. (Manuel Mazzanti/AP Images for Papa John's Pizza)

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