Keep Papa John under control at UofL board meetings

John Schnatter went a couple of hours without saying a word, at least during the public portion of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees meeting this week. Not easy for someone accustomed to being treated as near royalty in his hometown. 

And it was quite a contrast from a week before when he exhibited little self control, ranting about the UofL athletic department and another expansion of Cardinal Stadium. 

One wonders why Schnatter had reason to be upset? The athletic department has bent over backward to keep the Pizza magnate happy. Setting aside a special place for him to land his helicopter during football games at Cardinal Stadium. Allowing him to race his 1971 Camaro into the complex, wheels spinning, burning rubber. The football program also allowing him to completely cover the roof of the Brown & Williamson Club with the Papa John’s logo.

Interim President Greg Postel and Chairman David Grissom have their hands full already, even without John Schnatter’s antics.

Schnatter’s demeanor during the recent board meeting makes one suspect that someone may have finally denied him one of his outlandish wishes. Some sources believe his antagonism could date back to the second phase of the stadium expansion, possibly some special concessions on the party deck. 

Schnatter’s ego apparently knows no bounds. Would anyone be surprised if his next big request had been a sculpture of Papa John on the party deck? Making a special delivery no doubt. Not out of the question. He lives in a virtual castle and he referred to the football facility as “My stadium” during the board meeting. 

The strained look on his face during the trustees’ meeting made it appear as though he had been asked to remain quiet. This at a time when the University of Louisville is in need of positive reinforcement and constructive leadership. Had to be really difficult for him to hear Interim President Greg Postel describe Tom Jurich’s great success with the athletic program and assurance that the stadium expansion is well within budget.

Someone had obviously gotten to Schnatter, letting him know that his ranting was out of line, making him look foolish, embarrassing his fellow board members. This coming a day before it was announced that Schnatter had resigned from the board of the UofL Athletic Association and had been immediately replaced by university trustee James Rogers.

A long-time member of the University community, who wishes to remain unnamed, sees the fine hand of Trustees’ Chairman J. David Grissom at work in Schnatter’s resignation.

“It is not Schnatter’s style to resign for the good of the organization,” said the source. “My guess is that Grissom took him off the board because Schnatter is unpredictable in his rhetoric. Why else would another board appointment be made so quickly?

“This may have been one reason for the closed session at the Trustees’ meeting. Grissom does not want the wrath of Tom Jurich’s many supporters. Running Tom off would be the biggest mistake made by anyone. 

“Grissom also will not tolerate any trustee speaking to the media without his approval. Remember Schnatter’s parting comment on Wednesday, words to the effect that Grissom has it under control.”

Presumably that means Grissom will not tolerate any misdirection or outbursts at future Trustee meetings, especially from John Schnatter. 

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

5 thoughts on “Keep Papa John under control at UofL board meetings”

  1. A well -respected, well-liked and kind man named Mike Nolte passed in 2008. In his job as a Sales Manager for O’Reilly Auto Parts, he was always looking out for others— always helping and lending a hand…. and what a sense of humor ! One of his five sisters, Kathy, was a dear friend of mine and when he received his cancer diagnosis, to say we were shocked was an understatement…. Mike’s will to live was his top priority…. along with his family, friends stepped up… no errand or task was left unaddressed…. constant stream of visitors…. as Mike’s cancer was proving more and more difficult to conquer the word was sent out into the community for prayers of support for his wife Bonnie and their two kids. ~~~ Alas, he lost his battle.

    The funeral was held at Resthaven Chapel. It was standing room only. I was amazed at the gathering of friends, co-workers and neighbors. As everyone began taking their seats for the memorial service, in the side door walks John Schnatter. He was a social friend with another of Mike’s sisters, Marla & her husband Bob.

    However, it was not the fact that he made an appearance that rattled cages…. it was his choice in clothing — for a man who makes millions on tomato sauce and bread dough, this man wanted to BE SEEN…… and recognized. He was wearing a black polo shirt with the Papa John’s Pizza logo emblazoned on the front… and the immediate reaction throughout the Chapel was anger. He had disrespected the entire Nolte family with his obsession with attention…..

    So… when he showed up on the football field with his ’71 Camaro before the game, asking photographers if we wanted to take his picture next to his immortal juvenile car, I walked away. no thanks. When he asked us again to take photos of him in the stands passing out pizza, no thanks. He will never be seen through my viewfinder.

  2. John is or maybe was very well respected and appreciated it seems like until he went Uber public with his strange remarks the other day.

    We all appreciate his resources given to UofL, but maybe he should just stay behind the scenes. Kind of like TJ in a way, we don’t see him dunking, throwing passes, etc but we know he’s there, and we know his presence and what it has done to make those dunks and passes happen.

    Like the song goes “real gangstas don’t flex nuts because real gangstas know they got em”.

  3. We all know his wife, a Louisville Alumni, is the reason, that John Schnatter’s Papa John’s name is on our football stadium. One has to ask the question, if this negative behavior continues is it time for the University to part ways with John Schnatter?

  4. Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter filed a revised conflict of interest disclosure with the University of Louisville this week, following questions about his business ties with the school. The University of Kentucky has released the contracts related to its new “free enterprise” teaching institute, the result of major donations from the foundations of pizza magnate John Schnatter and businessman Charles Koch.

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