Papa John's name removed from Louisville stadium following n-word controversy

The University of Louisville announced Friday that it will remove the Papa John’s name from its football stadium as part of the growing fallout over a racial remark made by the pizza chain’s disgraced founder.

The facility will be called “Cardinal Stadium,” effective immediately, University President Neeli Bendapudi said in a statement.

"These comments were hurtful and unacceptable, and they do not reflect the values of our university," she said.

The name change comes just days after reports that John Schnatter, founder and chairman of the Louisville-based pizza chain, used the n-word during a company conference call in May. Schnatter apologized Wednesday and resigned hours later.

The change also comes a day after two Louisville football players, Seth Dawkins and Jaylen Smith, took to Twitter and called on the university to remove the Papa John’s name from their home stadium.

The university said it also decided to remove the Papa John’s name from the school’s Center for Free Enterprise at its College of Business. Schnatter also stepped down from the university’s board of trustees, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.

"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,” Bendapudi said. “The brightest days for this university are still ahead." 

Though all traces of the Papa John’s name will be removed from its buildings, university spokesman John Karman told the Louisville Courier-Journal that there were no plans to stop selling the chain’s pizza on campus, including inside the stadium.

Benapudi issued a reminder that the company has thousands of employees who depend on their job to support themselves and family, saying she has “trust” in the company to do the right thing, the paper reported.

The chain has already lost relationships with some Major League Baseball teams, including the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals, who have suspended all promotions with the brand.

Schnatter originally stepped down as Papa John’s CEO in December 2017, after claiming that the NFL’s handing of player protests contributed to the company’s third-quarter earnings slump. Papa John’s ended its official sponsorship of the NFL in February.