Update (September 18, 2019): After receiving a hefty donation from Papa John's Pizza founder John Schnatter, 10 students from Simmons College say they suddenly lost their scholarship. 

Administrators at the Louisville college are blaming beef between Papa John's and its estranged founder as the reason for the loss in scholarships, LEX18 reported.

Each student was initially told they would receive a scholarship after Schnatter announced a million-dollar donation to the historically Black college. 

President Rev. Kevin Cosby said on Thursday he was told the company would no longer be making the donation. 

"It felt as though someone has taken weapons of mass destruction and flown them into the hopes and dreams and aspirations of some of America's most vulnerable students," Cosby said.

A spokesperson for the restaurant chain said administrators at the school declined the scholarship.

An email from the college rejecting the funds was released, but the employee who sent the email said she was told to do so by a Papa John's executive.

"Thank you for our discussions on how to help support the students of Simmons College of Kentucky," Von Purdy, Simmons' director of development said in the email. "In light of recent news, it is best to decline your scholarships at this time and perhaps look at other ways to partner in the future."

Despite the miscommunication, the college initially said they would find a way to honor the scholarships to the students. However, on Monday, Papa John's made a donation of $30,000 to the college, according to Fox Business.

Although the company made the donation, it remains unclear if the donation will go toward the students' scholarships.

A spokesperson for the college confirmed they received the money and said an announcement will be made on Thursday.

Original: Founder of Papa John's Pizza, John Schnatter, donated $1 million to a historically Black college in his native home of Kentucky.

Schnatter and Simmons College President Rev. Kevin Cosby announced the donation during a press conference on Wednesday, according to WDRB.

The John H. Schnatter Family Foundation will disburse the funds on Schnatter's behalf. The college and the National Baptist Convention of America will split the money.

The donation comes a year after Schnatter was forced to step down as chairman of Papa John's after he was caught saying the n-word during a meeting. As Blavity previously reported, he was complaining about the controversy surrounding his criticism of the NFL's response to players protesting when he used the slur.

"Colonel Sanders called Blacks, n****rs," he said, referring to the founder of KFC.

The restaurant chain experienced intense backlash after the comments were leaked. Universities removed Papa John's restaurants from their campuses, and the NFL severed its professional ties with the brand.

The company later added Shaquille O'Neal to its board of directors and stripped their founder's image from its marketing materials. Schnatter still owns 17% of his namesake's shares.

Despite the optics, Schnatter insists the check is coming from a genuine desire to help the college.


"This is just about the kids and the school," he said during the presser. "If you're right about the kids and school, the image will take care of itself."

Cosby argued Schnatter's actions should speak louder than his words.

"What we say and mean is often misrepresented, but the pain of words, the sting, fades," Cosby said. "Actions speak louder because lack of action through generations has caused pain throughout the generations. The Black community has heard far too many false words, but today this action – this generosity specifically for Black education and uplift – speaks louder."

The donation is one of the most significant gifts the school has received. It is comparable to the $1 million it received from Humana, Inc. co-founder David Jones and his wife Betty in 2005.

Despite Schnatter's efforts, others aren't as impressed with his donation.

Simmons alum and former trustee Rev. Gerome Sutton led protests outside the chain's offices last year. He isn't buying the redemption story, according to The Louisville Courier Journal.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what's going on," he said. "[Schnatter] is trying to pay off the Black community with 30 pieces of silver."