Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Sports | By Johanna Francis

University of Louisville drops Papa John's name from stadium

University of Louisville drops Papa John's name from stadium

The fallout from Papa John's founder John Schnatter's controversial comment during a conference call continued Friday as University of Louisville president Neeli Bendapudi announced that the school will change the name of its football stadium to Cardinal Stadium from Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

U of L President Neeli Bendapudi said she chose to rename the stadium and also to remove Schnatter's name from the Center for Free Enterprise that Schnatter helped establish at U of L's College of Business in 2015 with a $4.6 million donation.

"Over the last 24 hours, our community has been fractured by the comments made by former UofL trustee John Schnatter", Bendapudi said in a statement.

Papa John's has a license agreement with Schnatter "related to the use of certain intellectual property related to his name, likeness and image, our business and brand may be harmed if Mr. Schnatter's services were not available to the Company or the reputation of Mr. Schnatter were negatively impacted, including by social media or otherwise", it said in 2017 annual filing. Her announcement Friday comes after several football players said on Twitter they want to see the stadium renamed.

Schnatter, who has naming rights of the stadium until 2040, supported her decision to remove his name from the stadium, Bendapudi said. "Regardless of the context, I apologize", the statement says.

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Thursday, two Louisville players spoke out against the name of the stadium. There is no clear recourse named in the contract that would allow the university to break the contract should a scandal like this happen. Still, an image of Schnatter, the "John" of "Papa John's", appears on a wide range of Papa John's materials, including its logo and pizza boxes.

Papa John's latest controversy has begun to cost the brand relationships with baseball teams across the majors.

Every time the Orioles scored five runs or more in a game this season, customers received a 50 percent discount the following day on regularly-priced Papa John's menu items ordered online by using a promo code. "Better Pizza. Papa John's" tagline in that spot.

Schnatter also reportedly said that when he was growing up in IN, people would drag black people from trucks until they died.

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