Papa John’s founder John Schnatter resigned from the University of Louisville board of trustees on Wednesday after reports that he used a racial slur during a conference call in May.
In a statement posted on the university’s website, board Chairman J. David Grissom confirmed that Schnatter was stepping down.
After speaking with John, I’m confident that his comments, while inappropriate, do not reflect his personal beliefs or values. No member of the board of trustees condones racism or insensitive language regardless of the setting. The University of Louisville embraces and celebrates diversity and is a supporter of all its students and stakeholders regardless as to their identity.
John has tendered his resignation from the University of Louisville board of trustees effective immediately. The board appreciates his 2 years of service and thanks him for his generous support for so many years.
Forbes reported on Wednesday that Schnatter used the word “n****rs” in a conference call with Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service in May. He has acknowledged and apologized for the incident.
In a statement to the Courier Journal on Wednesday, the Louisville chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called on him to step down or be removed from the university’s board.
“The University of Louisville Board of Trustees is not the place for an individual holding views denoted by such word usage,” the NAACP chapter said. “In the place where high ideals are developed, taught, practiced and expected to be emulated and modeled, there is no place or role for a person who uses the n-word knowing what its usage has denoted.”
The ill-fated call was reportedly set up in the aftermath of Schnatter’s saying in November 2017 that the NFL’s failure to resolve players’ protests during the national anthem “has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.” His statement prompted celebration by leading “alt-right” members.
Asked during the call how he could distance himself from the racist groups that rallied in support of him online, he complained that KFC’s Colonel Sanders never got public backlash for his remarks.
“Colonel Sanders called blacks n****rs,” said Schnatter, according to Forbes. (Forbes censored the word in its report.)
In an initial statement to HuffPost on Wednesday, Papa John’s didn’t directly address his reported comments but said the company “condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting.”
Later that day, he admitted to using the slur. Papa John’s released another statement, in which Schnatter said, “News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true. Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”