The LSU Athletics Department announced Wednesday a new campaign for this summer, geared toward selling tickets for the upcoming 2015-16 basketball season, based off Simmons' likeness - at least part of it - and the jersey number he'll don for the Tigers, 25.
The campaign featuring Simmons, Scout's No. 2 overall player in the 2015 class and the program's top signee since Shaquille O'Neal, will extend "throughout the Baton Rouge community via print, billboard, online and social media advertising."
Per a release from the LSU Athletics Department: "This year’s campaign will focus on the arrival of the nation's No. 1 recruit, Ben Simmons, and his chosen jersey number "25."
"Through this "25" campaign, fans wishing to become season ticket holders will have the opportunity to lock in their season tickets for the 2015-16 men’s basketball season in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Season tickets start at just $100."
In light of the recent Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA, this campaign has drawn the ire of some on the national level, most notably Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" Show Thursday morning, on the grounds of exploiting amateurism for promotion and generating revenue.
It should be noted that Simmons signed off on the campaign and gave his permission to LSU, per ESPN Sports Business Reporter & Business Correspondent Darren Rovell, and that compliance gave the thumb's up to run with it.
A New Era: LSU official tells me it had permission from Ben Simmons to market him like this, compliance approved it pic.twitter.com/xdaZ6BzSD4— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 21, 2015
Simmons himself also gave a nod to the campaign, tweeting the following several hours after LSU first announced the promotion.
Can't wait to throw on the Number 25 this season for #LSU— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) May 21, 2015
It's sure to be an issue that continues to make headlines in the coming days, particularly as Simmons is technically not even an LSU student yet.
There is a precedent for this sort of promotion as Memphis ran billboards in 2007 depicting a rose and the phrase "witness a rare fall bloom," alluding to incoming start point guard Derrick Rose.
Of course with O'Bannon's recent victory over the NCAA, the climate about player compensation and the usage of images and likenesses has changed dramatically in eight years.