Louisville, Ky. — The University of Louisville is removing Papa John’s from its football stadium’s name after a report the pizza chain’s founder used a racial slur.
The company’s logo has been on Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium since it was built 20 years ago.
John Schnatter, who also resigned from the university’s board of trustees, apologized this week for using the racial slur during a company conference call in May.
University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi said the “community has been fractured” by Schnatter’s comments. The school is also removing Schnatter’s name from its Center for Free Enterprise at the business school.
“These comments were hurtful and unacceptable, and they do not reflect the values of our university,” Bendapudi wrote in an open letter to the university community. She said the new name would be Cardinal Stadium.
Schnatter said Friday he is “distraught” over the comment he made.
“Anything I say or do that hurts the people I care about … is upsetting, it’s not right,” Schnatter said in an interview with WHAS-AM, a Louisville station. The interview was recorded before the name change announcement.
“What I wanted to make sure is we got the apology out,” he said. “We don’t condone racism in any way. Regardless of the context, you just can’t use that vocabulary.”
Bendapudi said at a news conference Friday that “there’s too much hurt around” the Papa John’s name right now. She spoke with Schnatter and said he supported the removal of the names.
The University of Kentucky also announced Friday that it would remove Schnatter’s name from its Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise.
Some Louisville football players called for the stadium name change this week. Wide receiver Seth Dawkins tweeted on Thursday that “We need to change the name of the stadium ASAP, I’m not here for it.” Head football coach Bobby Petrino applauded the university’s “quick action to rename our stadium,” and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Louisville fan, said earlier Friday that he would have taken the name down if it was up to him.
Ricky L. Jones, a University of Louisville professor who speaks and writes about race relations, applauded Schnatter for agreeing to the name change.
“It seems that he understood it was needed,” Jones said in an email. “Hopefully, this marks the beginning of a positive evolution for him — not as a businessman, but as a human being.”
Bendapudi said the name changes were effective immediately but gave no timetable on the removal of the signs from the stadium.