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Ball State sees large response after Papa John’s decision

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — More than 500 people have emailed Ball State University about its decision to support Papa John’s founder John Schnatter amid controversy over his use of a racial slur.

Trustees decided Friday to support the pizza-chain founder, who graduated from the university in 1983, The Star Press reported . Since then, hundreds of people have emailed the university, taken to social media or signed a petition regarding the decision.

The university is in the process of reviewing the messages, which have included both positive and negative reactions, university spokeswoman Kathy Wolf said. Wolf said university officials condemn racism and are committed to diversity and inclusion.

Schnatter resigned as chairman of the Kentucky-based pizza chain after Forbes reported last month that he used a racial slur during a media training conference call. He has apologized for using the word, but said it was taken out of context.

An online petition is asking trustees to reverse their decision and remove Schnatter’s name from the university’s John H. Schnatter Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise. Ball State started the institute in 2016, after Schnatter and the Charles Koch Foundation donated $3.25 million.

Schnatter “values his relationship with his alma mater” and “looks forward to continuing the tremendous work being done by the institute,” said Aaron Thompson, chief financial officer at the John H. Schnatter Family Foundation.

Earlier this month, Purdue University officials decided to drop decided to drop Schnatter’s name from a business school program.

Many other institutions have cut ties with Papa John’s. The University of Louisville removed the Papa John’s name from its football stadium and Schnatter’s name from its business college’s Center for Free Enterprise. The University of Utah decided to close the location in the campus food court.