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John Schnatter, once the face of Papa John’s and a University of Louisville trustee, sparked immediate backlash this week after dropping a racial slur during a conference call.
The university distanced itself from the pizza magnate but said it has had no discussions about removing the Papa John’s name from its football stadium.
But does playing at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium mean something different now after Schnatter’s N-word scandal?
“Anybody with a moral compass would see how that’s a little . . . shall we say . . . problematic,” tweeted Ricky Jones, a professor at the University of Louisville.
The news of John Schnatter’s comments in May, first reported by Forbes on Wednesday, quickly crumbled the pizza magnate’s already damaged reputation.
Within hours of the report, Schnatter apologized for his words, resigned from the University of Louisville’s board of trustees and stepped down as chairman of the company he built.
Schnatter’s name was dropped from Nachand Fieldhouse in his hometown of Jeffersonville, Indiana, but his name still is all over the region. Thanks to multimillion-dollar gifts, three university entrepreneurship centers bear his name — at Purdue, U of L and Ball State, Schnatter’s alma mater.
Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore ordered John Schnatter’s name removed from the Nachand Fieldhouse after he used a racial slur. Sam Upshaw Jr., Louisville Courier Journal
And, of course, it’s emblazoned on the city’s football stadium, which Schnatter jokingly referred to as his stadium last year.
“We’re getting ready to put $60 million in a stadium — by the way, it’s my stadium — and we’re $5 million over budget and we’ve got 10 days of cash. This is crazy,” Schnatter said at an April board of trustees meeting. “… We need to be more prudent with our dollars. By the way, I mean, I win on the stadium, but it’s not healthy for the university, and that’s just wrong.”
Schnatter holds the stadium’s naming rights, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting reported last year. His company is also the exclusive pizza provider at the stadium and during university events.
A University of Louisville athletics spokesman, Kenny Klein, said Wednesday that he knew of no plans to change the name of the stadium. And university spokesman John Karman said discussions about renaming the stadium were premature.
Twitter users, though, don’t feel the same way.
The university “needs to immediately remove the stadium name of Papa John Stadium to honor a decent person; not someone like John Schnatter who lacks character,” one user said. “I’ll never attend another game there while it bears his name!”
Others had suggestions for a new name approach. “Dealer for the people field,” anyone?
Darcy Costello: 502-582-4834; email@example.com; Twitter: @dctello. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/darcyc.