Lantern file photo
For Ohio State football, first there was “Tattoo Gate” in 2010.
Just weeks ago after the Buckeyes’ 17-16 win against Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. came “Tape Gate” after Spartans officials said OSU sent them altered game footage before the Sept. 29 contest.
Now, or so it seems, there’s “Pizza Gate” after a 25-year-old Columbus State college student was let go from his job at Iacono’s Pizza in Shawnee Hills, Ohio, after joking with OSU co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell’s wife, Amy, that the Buckeyes’ defense needed to “improve” their defense.
The student, who asked Columbus affiliate Fox 28 not to be named, said he was fired after Amy Fickell called his boss Trent Iacono to file a complaint.
“I was like, you know, we should really improve on our tackling because it’s just really bad right now,” the student told Fox 28.
Iacono, though, told The Lantern that isn’t the case and that no one from the Fickell family called him to place a complaint.
Rather, he said, another employee at the restaurant overheard the exchange and notified Iacono about it.
“We can’t talk to customers that way,” he told The Lantern.
Iacono said he called to apologize to the Fickells and ask them what happened, “like any business owner would.”
“We’re here to provide a service not a commentary,” he said.
He confirmed he terminated the employee and said the student was unaware that he was the one who called the Fickells, not the other way around.
“He’s caught in a pickle because he didn’t have his facts straight,” Iacono said.
Similarly, OSU athletics spokesman Jerry Emig said in an email that all the Fickell family did was “order the pizza.”
Emig outlined “a slight (or a flippant remark or an inappropriate comment) was made by an employee of a retail establishment to Mrs. Fickell.”
The Fickells, Emig said in the email, “DID NOT call the manager to complain” but rather the manager “found out about the incident (presumably from someone at the restaurant).”
He said the manager called the Fickells to ask what the employee said and they told him what happened.
“(The Fickells) did not place a call to complain,” Emig said, “they also did not ask that anyone be fired. In fact, they feel terrible that this person lost his job.”
While Iacono said the Fickells regularly order pizza from his establishment, he does not personally know the family.