The time for Louisville to figure out a way to disassociate itself with former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter is approaching like a supersonic jet.
Schnatter resigned Wednesday night as the CEO of the pizza company. That resignation came after he resigned from Louisville’s board of trustees following a report that he used the N-word during a May conference call.
Louisville’s naming rights deal for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is not with the company but rather Schnatter himself. So the school can’t simply keep the name in place and say it’s no big deal because Schnatter is no longer associated with the company that has his name.
Players don’t want to play at a stadium with Schnatter’s name
Seth Dawkins and Jaylen Smith have become two of the first players to speak out against the current name of the stadium. Dawkins posted a tweet Thursday morning that Smith agreed with. It’s safe to say they probably aren’t the only two players who feel this way about Schnatter.
We need to change the name of the stadium ASAP, I’m not here for it
— Seth Dawkins (@dawkins5_) July 12, 2018
You could tell the name of the stadium was rightfully going to become an issue when a professor at the school publicly brought it up Wednesday.
In a couple of months, black students from the #UniversityOfLouisville and other schools will be expected to suit up and play football in “Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.”
Anybody with a moral compass would see how that’s a little . . . shall we say . . . problematic. pic.twitter.com/5hsZBs21ra
— Ricky L. Jones (@DrRickyLJones) July 11, 2018
Louisville president says school will discuss naming rights concerns
Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi told reporters on Thursday that she is evaluating the naming rights issue and that she and other school officials need time “to think this through.”
“We haven’t had a chance to discuss it formally but yes, certainly we are aware that there is a lot of interest in this and we are hoping to come together to discuss it,” she said.
Louisville says it doesn’t condone racism from board members
Schnatter’s comments have forced the university to say that none of its board members condone racism. A statement from board president J. David Grissom Wednesday called Schnatter’s comments inappropriate, though Grissom said he didn’t think they reflected Schnatter’s belief system.
Schnatter used the racial slur on the call during a training exercise surrounding the hate groups that have associated themselves with the pizza company following Schnatter’s remarks in the NFL national anthem kerfuffle.
Major League Baseball has already stopped its Papa John’s promotion when a player hits a grand slam. Teams like the Kansas City Royals have also stopped their promotions with the pizza company as well. It’s not as simple for Louisville. But the school has to figure out a solution.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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