Ball State University’s Board of Trustees voted to remove alumnus and Papa John’s founder John Schnatter’s name from a school building and return a multi-million dollar donation after backlash from his use of a racial slur, the school said in a statement.
The decision was a reversal for the board, which had previously stated Schnatter's name would not be removed from the school's building.
"The Board of Trustees strongly condemns racism, both implicit and explicit. Our condemnation extends to include John Schnatter's comments that are the subject of controversy and have no place in our society," the board said in a statement.
An 8-1 vote resulted in BSU removing Schnatter’s name from the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise building, and offering to return the grant donated by the John H. Schnatter foundation in 2016, according to the statement. The Schnatter foundation, along with the Charles Koch foundation, donated $3.25 million, according to a statement from BSU.
"The Board had hoped that the situation would provide a learning opportunity regarding race relations and critical thinking. We respect and appreciate that John desired to engage with our students and campus community and otherwise continue to be supportive of Ball State," the board said in its statement.
In a statement from early August, BSU had defended Schnatter's right to free speech:
"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. 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."
Schnatter graduated from BSU in 1983 and was the school's 2015 spring commencement speaker, according to a statement from BSU. He resigned as chairman of the board for Papa John’s in July after Forbes reported that he used the N-word during a May conference call. He now says stepping down was a "mistake."
In early August, Purdue University announced it would be dropping Schnatter's name from a school building and returning an $8 million donation to his family foundation.