U of L and John Schnatter reach settlement over stadium naming rights Sunday, Nov 3 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville can finally put John Schnatter in the past. The University of Louisville Athletic Association announced Oct. 24 they have reached a five-year, $9.5 million settlement over the naming right’s deal for the football stadium.

The first payment of this deal to Schnatter will be $1.4 million and then $2 million each year over the next five years.

U of L athletic director Vince Tyra said the university is looking for a new naming rights partner but they are in no rush. “Our intention would be to try to get that buttoned up for next season and put a name back on the stadium,” said Tyra.

“Papa Johns” was removed from Cardinal stadium in July 2018 after Schnatter, Papa Johns founder, admitted to using racial slurs on a phone call. President Neeli Bendapudi was the leading force behind the removal of the name on the stadium.

After this incident Schnatter also resigned from his position as a board of trustee member at U of L.

Bendapudi said that Schnatter’s comments had fractured the community last year when the ordeal unfolded. “These comments were hurtful and unacceptable and they do not reflect the values of our university,” Bendpaudi said last year.

Schnatter’s naming rights deal with the university, which was negotiated back in 1996, was set to run through 2040.

Tyra said as U of L looks for a new sponsor for the stadium name they plan to sign a much shorter deal, more along the lines of a 10-year timeframe.

Whoever signs the new deal with U of L will be agreeing to a ‘morals’ clause, which was not included in Schnatter’s original deal. This would allow the university to void the deal if the partner comes into a public scandal.

Schnatter issued this statement in an email regarding the settlement:

“With Papa John’s being based in Louisville and me being the single largest shareholder in the company, I’m very glad to reach the agreement today with the University of Louisville. It was concluded with the best interests of the university and the students in mind. Something you can be sure of is that I will always support the community with passion and I will always work hard to inspire others to pursue their dreams just like I was able to pursue mine right here in Louisville, Kentucky.”

While the Papa Johns name is no longer affiliated with the stadium, their pizza is still sold at football games. The naming rights deal was a separate deal from the business itself.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L and Rick Pitino reach settlement Wednesday, Sep 18 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville Athletic Association can finally close the Rick Pitino chapter after almost two years in court.

“It’s a terrific day to get this behind us, and I’m sure the other side feels the same,” said Vince Tyra, U of L athletic director.

The ULAA board of trustees approved a settlement between the two parties on Sept. 18. The settlement comes eight days after both sides met for nine hours at the Louisville federal courthouse discussing the matter.

As part of the settlement Pitino will receive no money from U of L, but his personnel file will be changed to reflect that his employment ended in resignation. Both sides have agreed to dismiss their claims they filed against each other back in 2017.

U of L and Pitino issued a joint statement accompanying the announcement:

“For 17 years, Coach Pitino ran a program that combined excellence on the court with a commitment to the program’s student athletes, their academic achievement, and their futures in and out of basketball. Nevertheless, there were NCAA infractions during his term which led to serious consequences for the University. Although these infractions may not have occurred at Coach Pitino’s direction or with his knowledge, the problems leading to the NCAA infractions happened under his leadership. We thank Coach Pitino for his years of service to the University of Louisville basketball program and wish him well.”

U of L fired Pitino on Oct. 16, 2017, for just cause, negative press, contract violations and lack of supervision and compliance. This came shortly after Pitino and his staff were involved in a national recruiting scandal that is still being investigated by NCAA.

Pitino filed his lawsuit on Nov. 30, 2017, seeking almost $40 million from the university. He cited that he was still owed the salary remaining on his contract that was set to expire in June 2026 and that U of L had no right to fire him because he was unaware of the escort scandal that happened in 2013.

This argument failed to hold up with NCAA’s findings that Pitino failed to monitor his program, thus he was in violation of his 2015 contract.

On Dec. 13, 2017, U of L countersued Pitino for monetary damages incurring from the vacation of NCAA games, including the 2013 Final Four and National Championship appearances. U of L was seeking to receive any bonuses or compensation wrongly paid to Pitino for his NCAA appearances.

Pitino made six NCAA Elite Eight and three Final Four appearances in his 17 seasons with U of L. After the escort scandal U of L was forced to vacate 123 wins along with their 2012 Final Four and 2013 National Championship banners.

“Rick accomplished a lot here as head coach and our record books do show that,” Tyra said. “And although there will be asterisks there at times, he’s done quite a bit. So I don’t know if I would say we’ve washed our hands of Rick Pitino.”

Tyra said that this settlement has no impact on the NCAA’s current investigation with the university.

U of L and Pitino ultimately came to this agreement to avoid expenses and uncertainty litigation. In their agreement it states that neither party admits to liability or unlawful conduct during this litigation.

“We were solid in our stance from the beginning that this was zero liability for us,” Tyra said. “I think it was a terrific outcome for the university.”

This settlement will not be official until the federal judge overseeing the case approves the terms of it.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L purchases iconic Cardinal Stadium cabooses Thursday, Aug 22 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville Athletic Association announced they bought the cabooses that reside at Cardinal Stadium Aug. 14.

U of L will ultimately pay $1.5 million to Cabooses Express to keep the cabooses. The deal was broken down so the University of Louisville Athletic Association is paying $660,000 initially, then $140,000 for the next six years.

U of L Athletic Director Vince Tyra said it was never the universities intention to lose the cabooses. “We wanted more control and risk management in place,” said Tyra.

U of L officially assumed control of the cabooses on Aug. 1, but the deal wasn’t official until Aug. 14. The university is still bound to its leases with the cabooses’ tenants though.

Tyra also said the university wanted to makes this purchase to ensure more protection. He said they plan to do away with overnight stays in the cabooses. Tyra also said that there will be a meeting with the tenants to discuss the new rules.

For the past 20 years Caboose Express had leased the cabooses to U of L. The ULAA decided in January they weren’t going to renew the lease.

Tyra said the cabooses will absolutely be there for the football team’s season opener.

Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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