Papa John’s is getting sliced from the University of Louisville’s stadium, university officials announced Friday.
The university’s stadium will be renamed from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to simply Cardinal Stadium effective immediately, the Louisville Courier Journal reports. The move comes two days after the company’s founder, John Schnatter, resigned as chairman of the company and from the university’s board of trustees after reports surfaced that he used the N-word during a conference call in May.
The university’s president, Neeli Bendapudi, said she informed both Schnatter, 56, and Papa John’s International of the unilateral decision to end their relationship.
“Any time that your university is mentioned in less than glowing terms, as the president of the university, it’s disappointing,” Bendapudi said Thursday. “I am sure that he will say that he is sorry that he has hurt so many people, including — I know — students that he cares a great deal about.”
Bendapudi indicated Thursday that university officials would be evaluating the stadium’s naming rights. The right to change the name of the stadium reportedly belonged to Schnatter.
Schnatter’s name will also be removed from the university’s Center for Free Enterprise at its business school, university spokesman John Karman confirmed to The Post.
Forbes reported Wednesday that Schnatter used the racial slur during a conference call designed as a role-playing exercise to prevent public relations disasters. During the call, Schnatter was asked how he would separate himself from racist groups online.
After downplaying his comments from November — when he criticized the NFL over its national anthem policy, which prompted him to step down as Papa John’s chief executive in January — Schnatter said that “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s” before complaining that Sanders himself never faced widespread public backlash.
Schnatter also reflected on his childhood in Indiana while on the call and said people in the Hoosier State used to kill African Americans by dragging them from the back of vehicles. While the comments were seemingly intended to denounce racism, several people on the call said they were offended by them, Forbes reported.
Schnatter — long been the face of Papa John’s brand — is still the company’s largest shareholder and remains on its board, but top executives plan on removing his image from marketing materials following the latest controversy.
A person inside the company with knowledge of the decision said they were unaware of plans to change the chain’s name.
That isn’t the case in Miami or Tampa Bay, however, where the city’s baseball teams have ended promotions with Papa John’s after Schnatter’s usage of the N-word, the Tampa Bay Times reports. On Friday, the Texas Rangers followed in the footsteps of the Marlins and the Rays, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
Major League Baseball has also indefinitely suspended its “Papa Slam” promotion that offered fans 40 percent off orders the day after any player hit a grand slam, Yahoo! Sports reports.
With Post wires