John Schnatter, embattled founder of the pizza empire, pledged one million dollars to HBCU Simmons College earlier this month after he received backlash for using the N-word in a meeting and publicly criticizing the NFL's handling of the anthem protests.
The money has been pulled and it’s not clear who is to blame.
“Let’s not mince words,” said Simmons College’s public relations and marketing Director Krystal Goodner. “The reason we’re here is because of the million dollar donation made by John Schnatter. That definitely ruffled some feathers on Papa John’s situation. We feel like we are literally in the middle of crossfire. There definitely is some bad blood.”
FOX Business reports the grant was designed to cover living expenses, food and housing for ten students, who were all notified about the gift. Each student would have received $2,000 each from a $20,000 scholarship.
The Courier Journal reports the school will compensate the students who were promised the scholarships in the future.
According to WCPO-9, a spokesperson for the Louisville, Kentucky HBCU says their intention was to only delay the grants, not decline them all together, but was allegedly coerced from Papa John's diversity director.
A Papa John's spokeswoman denies those claims, saying the school’s rejection was shocking.
“We were disappointed when the administration of Simmons College unexpectedly told us last week they would not move forward with the scholarship program we had offered in good faith,” the spokesperson declared. “The claim we took away scholarships is absolutely false. We are committed to the communities we serve and have provided more than $1 million in grants this year through The Papa John’s Foundation.”
Following Schnatter’s racist comments, he was terminated from his position as CEO of the pizza franchise on January 1 by the company's chief operating officer, Steve Ritchie.
Photo: J. Michael Jones