UK to sever all financial ties to Papa John’s founder following racial slur



Kernel News Staff

In a campus wide email Friday UK President Eli Capilouto announced that UK would be severing financial ties with John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s.

UK will remove Schnatter’s name from the John Schnatter Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise in the Gatton College of Business. Schnatter and his family foundation contributed $8 million to the institute in 2015.

“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,” the statement read. “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.” 

A statement from the John H. Schnatter Family Foundation, also included in the email, announced the end of the university’s partnership with the foundation. 

“Based on recent events,” the statement read, “the University feels that Mr. Schnatter’s involvement with this program could be a distraction to students and scholars. With that in mind, we have mutually agreed to end our partnership with the University.”

The University of Louisville also announced Friday that it would also be removing Schnatter’s and the Papa John’s name from their business school and football stadium.

The recent controversy around Schnatter began Wednesday when Forbes published a report claiming that an unnamed source said that during a conference call between Papa John’s executives and a marketing agency, Schnatter uttered a racial slur during a role-playing exercise designed to train against PR disasters.

“Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter said, and added that KFC hasn’t faced the same level of public backlash he has received.

In an apologetic statement, Schnatter confirmed the Forbes report.

He resigned from the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday afternoon, a statement from board chairman J. David Grissom said.

Before UK’s decision to remove Schnatter’s name from the Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise, some local politicians were calling for UK to follow in the University of Louisville’s footsteps.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State, praised Louisville for acting quickly and encouraged UK to follow suit.

Reggie Thomas, the Kentucky state senator that represents the area UK is located in, took to social media to call for the removal of Schnatter’s name.

“What Schnatter said was offensive, degrading and insulting to people of color like myself,” Thomas wrote on Twitter. “I urge UK officials to remove his name from the Institute for the Study of Enterprise, and remove the sign in the Gatton School of Business honoring Schnatter’s business accomplishments.”

After UK’s decision Thomas told the Kernel that UK made the right choice.

“I completely agree with the wisdom behind this decision,” Thomas said. “UK is an esteemed institution that encourages diversity in all students, I cannot honor John Schnatter after the comments made.”