Papa John’s advisor firm wants Shaquille O’Neal fired from company’s board because he missed too many meetings

Shaquille O'Neal
Photo: John Amis/AP/Shutterstock

Shaquille O’Neal has built a reputation as an astute businessman following his retirement from the NBA. The former center owns and is involved with a number of companies, including pizza chain Papa John’s, whose board he joined last March in the wake of founder John Schnatter’s resignation.

Schnatter’s 2018 exit came as a result of a scandal stemming from his use of a racial slur, and Shaq’s involvement has gone a long way into repairing the company’s image. In spite of that, an investment advisor Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) wants O’Neal off the board of directors because he attended less than 75 percent of company meetings in 2019, per Bloomberg.

The annual board meeting is scheduled for April 23 and the company can opt not to bring the erstwhile NBA star back.

Papa John’s SEC filings note that every director attended at least 75 percent of the company’s 16 meetings, save O’Neal, but also gave a good reason for his absence.

“[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 statement reads. “The Company and Mr. O’Neal do not expect these scheduling conflicts to recur in 2020.”

As fans would know, Shaq is a very busy man. Apart from his NBA on TNT gig, the 48-year-old has several sponsorships and endorsements with various companies and owns restaurants in different cities. He also performs as a DJ and hosts Shaq’s Fun House events. Most of his commitments for last year were in place before he joined league with Papa John’s.

The pizza chain has since come to Shaq’s defense.

“Mr. O’Neal has made important contributions to Papa John’s since joining the Board in March 2019, when he also became a brand ambassador as well as a franchisee,” it said in quotes cited by Seeking Alpha. “Since he came onto the Papa John’s Board, Mr. O’Neal has used his experience in business and the community to build on the progress being made at Papa John’s. Mr. O’Neal has added a unique and diverse perspective to the Board and he is expected to continue to help Papa John’s improve its culture and engagement with its customers and communities.”

O’Neal’s deal with the company got him nine franchises plus $8.25 million over a three-year period.