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.
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.