Newspaper ad campaign nearly costs student-athlete chance to compete

KIMBERLY, Wis. -- An Appleton newspaper's ad campaign almost cost a student-athlete her chance to compete!

Phil Scholl says his daughter Miriam is a track and swim athlete at Neenah High School, whose photo was taken by the Appleton Post-Crescent during a hurdling meet. In July, the Gannett-owned newspaper began using the photograph in commercial material.

"Here was my daughter's image being used in a commercial advertisement without ever giving permission -- no contact from Gannett to her family, to myself," Scholl said.

The paper says they own the image, and they're able to do whatever they want with it.

"It was a promotional campaign talking about the important content that local consumers can get at and in the Post-Crescent when they are looking for high school athletic news," Post-Crescent Publisher Genia Lovett said.

The consequences of the newspaper's promotional campaign came Thursday, September 20th when Miriam Scholl was ruled ineligible by the WIAA. The WIAA said it was a result of the high school junior violating a rule.

"An athlete would become ineligible if they are used to promote a business -- whether profit or non-business, and they cannot be identified as an athlete," WIAA Deputy Director Wade Labecki said.

The WIAA's decision made the paper rethink its campaign.

"As soon as I found out about the concern for the athletes' future and their eligibility, we immediately halted the campaign completely across all media," Lovett said.

After reviewing the files and talking with the schools and the newspaper, the WIAA changed its mind, reinstating both students' eligibility.