Papa John’s name scrubbed from Louisville’s Cardinal Stadium

The University of Louisville’s football stadium will no longer carry the Papa John’s name, days after the pizza chain’s founder admitted using a racial slur during a business call.

The stadium is to be redubbed “Cardinal Stadium” effective immediately, university president Neeli Bendapudi said Friday.

The 42,000-seat stadium, which opened in 1998, was largely funded by a donation from Schnatter, who was later a trustee of the university. He stepped down fro that position this week. 

Schnatter is also affiliated with the University of Kentucky, which in 2015 founded the “John H. Schnatter Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise” after he made an $8 million gift to the school. The Charles Koch Foundation contributed $4 million to help start the center.

“Without question, the language reported in the conference call is unacceptable and has no place in our community,” the U. of Kentucky said in a statement on Thursday. “We look forward to Mr. Schnatter further addressing this issue in response to the heavy criticism he is rightly receiving.”

Papa John’s Pizza is also moving to distance itself from the restaurant chain’s founder. The company is pulling Schnatter’s image from its marketing materials, the Associated Press reported Friday. The restaurant chain has featured it in logos and TV ads. 

Papa John’s said there are no plans to change its name, according to the AP.

Schnatter has long been the face of the brand, and Papa John’s has acknowledged in regulatory filings that its business could be hurt if his reputation was damaged. That scenario seemed to play out last year after Schnatter blamed disappointing pizza sales on the outcry surrounding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. At the time Papa John’s was an NFL sponsor. He resigned as CEO soon after.

This week, Schnatter stepped down from his role as chairman of the board of the pizza chain.

Fallout from the incident — for which Schnatter apologized — is also having local repercussions. His hometown of Jeffersonville, Indiana, is also putting distance between itself and the man it once called a “hometown hero.” The mayor of Jeffersonville, Mike Moore, returned a $400,000 donation from Schnatter to restore the Nachand Fieldhouse, a historic gym.

Schnatter had pledged $800,000 to renovate the building, which also carried his name until earlier this week.

“I’m not going to allow that name with those comments to be attached to anything in the city of Jeffersonville,” Moore told CBS News affiliate WLKY. “An $800,000 gift to the city of Jeff is enormous, but the city of Jeff is worth more than $800,000. It’s not for sale,” Moore said. 

Schnatter is also a frequent donor to Republican candidates in Kentucky and nationwide.

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