Thursday, after news broke that Papa John’s founder John Schnatter used the n-word during a conference call with a public relations firm back in May, the pizza mogul resigned as both a Louisville trustee and the chairman at his own company.
Many have been wondering what Louisville will do in the aftermath – considering the school’s football stadium is named Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. It turns out it’s very, very complicated.
A number of players on Louisville’s team have already expressed themselves regarding the idea of taking the field in the fall in a stadium that bears his company name. Fans are upset too:
We need to change the name of the stadium ASAP, I’m not here for it 🤷🏾♂️
— Seth Dawkins (@dawkins5_) July 12, 2018
AT ALL https://t.co/84JlAPznli
— Jaylen Smith (@JaylenSmith_12) July 12, 2018
Louisville has to change the name of the stadium.
— Marc Hellmueller (@marchellmueller) July 12, 2018
Schnatter, after a large donation, was given naming rights a few years back. ABC News reports that the deal is actually with Schnatter himself – and it runs until 2040. If he leaves his company, he retains naming rights – and can rename the building.
You’re reading that right.
Schnatter remains prominently linked to the school through Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. In a complicated arrangement, the school’s deal is with Schnatter himself, not the Papa John’s brand, and provides that if he leaves the company, Schnatter can rename the building. His current deal with the university runs through 2040.
Could Louisville return the money and take offers from new companies for naming rights? Maybe – it’s hard to know without seeing the contract. It’s also unclear whether Schnatter would be willing to play ball regarding the agreement.
Hopefully, Louisville gets it all figured out. There’s been no word from the school yet on any kind of name change.