Founder of pizza chain Papa John’s, John Schnatter, resigned as Chairman of the Board on Wednesday after admitting to using a racial slur during a conference call with a marketing agency. The company in a statement said Olivia Kirtley will act as lead independent director, and that it will appoint a new chairman in the coming weeks.
In an email statement, Schnatter confirmed the allegations. ”News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true,” he said. “Regardless of the context, I apologise. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”
Schnatter also resigned from the board of trustees for the University of Louisville, the university said in a statement. “No member of the board of trustees condones racism or insensitive language regardless of the setting,” said chairperson of the board of trustees, J David Grissom.
Schnatter, who founded the company in 1984, resigned as chief executive in December after facing criticism for comments he made at the National Football League leadership, The New York Times reported. Schnatter blamed the league for a slump in sales and complained about the league’s handling of players who protested against racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.
The conference call arranged in May was meant to discuss with Schnatter how to distance from racist groups online, following the NFL incident, reported Forbes.