Senator's ad mistakes Duke for UK

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sen. Mitch McConnell's latest campaign video hit all the necessary Kentucky high points: horse racing, bluegrass -- and Duke basketball?

The campaign scrambled Tuesday to remove an online video that featured a split-second clip of Duke basketball players celebrating their 2010 national championship.

The mistake comes as the basketball-crazy state of Kentucky prepares for its biggest game of the season. Eighth-seeded Kentucky and fourth-seeded Louisville face off in the Sweet 16 on Friday night in Indianapolis.

"The ad was intended to highlight Kentucky's basketball dominance and obviously the Web ad vendor has become so accustomed to watching national championship celebrations in the Bluegrass State that they made a mistake with one of the images," said McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore, a Kentucky graduate. "Obviously we were horrified by the error and quickly changed it."

Duke's narrow win over Kentucky in a 1992 regional final, won on Christian Laettner's improbable last-second shot, remains a sore spot for many Wildcats fans, and Duke is still a frequent target for their animosity.

The ad was replaced by one featuring footage of Kentucky's Julius Randle. However, that one had issues, too.

"Although the use of the student-athlete's image in the advertisement is not permissible, because it was done without the knowledge or permission of the university or the student-athlete, it is not an NCAA violation," the UK athletic department said in a statement Tuesday evening, after consulting with the NCAA about the image.

"The University of Kentucky has sent a cease and desist letter and will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure improper usage of a student-athlete's name, image or likeness is prevented."

The McConnell campaign said the video was taken down as soon as questions were raised about the NCAA images.

"We have received correspondence from the University of Kentucky, we have spoken with them, and the matter has been resolved," Moore said in a statement.

"To be clear, neither the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville nor any student-athlete was aware of any image used in this video, and actions have been taken with the vendor to ensure this never happens again. We have also reached out to the University of Louisville to make sure they are aware of the situation and offered our full cooperation to clear up any misunderstanding."

A spokeswoman for Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell's likely Democratic opponent, quipped that McConnell has "been in Washington so long that he doesn't know the difference between Duke and UK."

Of course, Grimes had already miffed fans by picking Wichita State to beat Kentucky in her tournament bracket. The Wildcats beat the previously unbeaten Shockers 78-76. And she picked Louisville to lose to Florida in the championship game.'s Andy Katz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.