MUNCIE, Indiana — Ball State University decided Friday it will keep the name of Papa John’s founder on campus, while Purdue University announced it will do the opposite.
In a statement released Friday morning, the board said it made the decision based upon its "current understanding of what transpired" during a conference call last May in which John Schnatter admitted to saying the N-word.
Schnatter graduated from Ball State in 1983 and founded Papa John's in 1984. The Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise was later named after Schnatter.
You can read the full statement can be below:
To the Ball State Community:
Ball State alumnus, John Schnatter, has been the subject of media reports regarding his comments in a private meeting in May. As a result, the Board of Trustees has been asked whether his name will be removed from the John H. Schnatter Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise.
Higher education plays a unique role in the support of free speech and the exchange of ideas that lead to better understanding. In that pursuit, it does not mandate perfection. The language used by John was insensitive and painful to others, making a review of context appropriate.
To such end, we have the following understanding of John’s comments. They were made in a private meeting with consultants, from which he was seeking advice as to how to communicate in a way that would be less offensive to others. In the course of the conversation, he recited his understanding of another’s use of the “N word”. He did so not in a derogatory manner seeking to demean any individuals or groups; rather it was used as an example of improper conduct.
John has acknowledged, notwithstanding his intentions, that his use of the word was inappropriate. His response was to promptly issue an apology and unequivocally denounce racism. He has reaffirmed those views to us personally, and such sentiment is consistent with Ball State’s values.
In our experience with John, he has never expressed racist views. He has demonstrated himself to be an individual who is very appreciative of his fortunate situation and cares deeply about creating an environment in which all enterprising individuals have the opportunity to succeed. With such perspective, John has generously shared his blessings through his contributions to universities and other philanthropic activities.
Based on our current understanding of what transpired, John’s response to the current situation, and our experience with him, the Board will continue our support of the John H. Schnatter Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise.
While we recognize that some will disagree with our position on this particular matter, we hope all will share in the Board’s unwavering commitment to a diverse and welcoming campus. Through our continued work together, Ball State can advance a sense of community that is so essential to the creation of a stronger Indiana and a healthier society.
The Purdue University Board of Trustees decided Friday to remove his name from the John H. Schnatter Center for Economic Research.
Purdue University said it has offered to return the funds associated with naming the center.
You can read the full statement from Purdue University below:
The Purdue Board of Trustees has decided that the name of the university’s economics center, named in April 2018 the John H. Schnatter Center for Economic Research at Purdue, should revert to the Purdue University Research Center in Economics. Purdue will offer to return the funds associated with the naming.
The board believes this action is necessary to avoid distraction from the center’s work, counterproductive division on the campus, and any inference of any deviation from the university’s often stated stance on tolerance and racial relations. A copy of previous statements [purdue.edu] on that topic is attached by way of reaffirmation.
Before Purdue's decision, the University of Louisville already announced on July 14 that it would remove Papa John's name from its football stadium. Also, the University of Utah cut ties with Papa John's in its food court on campus.
Schnatter resigned as chairman of the board of Papa John's on July 12. He then filed suit against the company he founded on July 27 to get access to books and records. Schnatter has said leaving Papa John's was a mistake, and he's reportedly trying to get shareholder support to remain on the company's board.