University of Louisville removes "Papa John's" name from football stadium

07/13/2018 01:56 PM

LOUISVILLE – In the wake of outrage over racist comments made by Papa John’s founder and former University of Louisville board of trustees member John Schnatter, the name Papa John’s has been removed from UofL’s football stadium.

UofL President Neeli Bendapudi made the announcement Friday, saying the new PJCS football stadium will be named “Cardinal Stadium” and John Schnatter’s name has been removed from the Center for Free Enterprise at the College of Business.

“I have stated since my first day on this job that my commitment to the University of Louisville is to make it a great place to learn, a great place to work, and a great place in which to invest. We can only accomplish this if we truly celebrate diversity, foster equity, and aim to achieve inclusion,” Bendapudi said. “I appreciate your support as we have reviewed this difficult situation. By taking this action, we renew our community’s commitment to speaking up when it matters, doing what is right, and coming together as one team – our Cardinal family – to heal and move forward. The brightest days for this university are still ahead.”

Hours before the announcement was made, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, a University of Louisville alum, addressed the comments made by Schnatter and his removal from the board of trustees.

“There is no place for racism in the country and it sounds to me like the proper steps were being taken,” McConnell said.

McConnell also says he is in support of the stadium name change. Before Bendapudi’s announcement, he said, “If it were up to me, I would change it tomorrow.”

The news comes as Schnatter has drawn fire this week for using the N-word in May while on a call between Papa John’s executives and the marketing agency Laundry Service. The call was designed to prevent Schnatter from making further public relations snafus. Schnatter was already in hot water in November 2017 after he blamed the national anthem protests in the NFL for slowing sales at Papa John’s.

While on the call, he reportedly downplayed those comments saying that Colonel Sanders called black people the N-word. He then went on to recount life while growing up in Southern Indiana and racist events there. The news led to Schnatter’s resignation this week from the University of Louisville board of trustees, where he had served for two years.

The name change is effective immediately.

Redshirt junior P.J. Mbanasor reacted to the news.

Meanwhile, UofL football head coach Bobby Petrino released a statement Friday afternoon:

“In light of recent events, I am pleased that our university has made the correct decision to remove ‘Papa John’s’ from the name of our stadium. Our football team and our city all promote environments of inclusiveness. The university’s quick action to rename our stadium has only reaffirmed its commitment to such inclusiveness. I applaud their decision.”

The fallout of Schnatter’s comments continued on Friday when University of Kentucky president Eli Capilouto announced the school would be removing his name from the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise which is housed on campus.

“We appreciate Mr. Schnatter’s understanding that his unacceptable language is contrary to the values of the University of Kentucky. We believe in his sincerity to try to make amends. But attempting to continue any financial relationship with Mr. Schnatter would be a painful and unnecessary barrier to our efforts of building a community where everyone is welcome and belongs. Therefore, we will be continuing the important work of the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise, but neither the Gatton College of Business and Economics nor the Institute will recognize Mr. Schnatter in any way.”

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.