UofL trustee and Papa John’s founder John Schnatter (right) with former athletic director Tom Jurich | File Photo

Papa John’s founder and chairman John Schnatter resigned from the University of Louisville board of trustees on Wednesday, hours after he confirmed media reports from early Wednesday morning that he had used a racial slur on a company conference call in May.

UofL released a statement late Wednesday afternoon from trustees chairman J. David Grissom, who indicated that Schnatter tendered his resignation from the University of Louisville board of trustees effective immediately.

“After speaking with John, I’m confident that his comments, while inappropriate, do not reflect his personal beliefs or values,” Grissom stated. “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.”

In the statement, Grissom thanks Schnatter for his two years of service and “his generous support for so many years.”

Forbes reported Wednesday morning that Schnatter made the remark on a conference call arranged by Papa John’s executives and a marketing agency as a role-playing exercise for Schnatter to avoid more public-relations problems, such as his remarks last year about NFL players protesting racism by kneeling during the national anthem.

Schnatter was reported to have downplayed the significance of his NFL remarks on the call, adding that “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s” without facing a similar public backlash.

After another round of backlash and a sharp decline in Papa John’s shares, Schnatter released a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming the Forbes story and apologizing.

“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” said Schnatter. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

The NAACP of Louisville and the Kentucky Democratic Party had called on Schnatter to resign before UofL made the news official.

Schnatter will also lose his seat on the UofL Foundation board of directors, as he held that position as a representative of the trustees. He had already resigned from the UofL Athletic Association board last year, following criticism of former athletic director Tom Jurich.

This story has been updated.

Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]


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