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Report: The Utah Jazz have ended their partnership with Papa John’s

The actions of Papa John’s founder John Schnatter continue to have far reaching consequences

According to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune the Utah Jazz are parting ways with the Louisville based pizza chain that has been embroiled in controversy as a result of their Founder John Schnatter using the n-word during a company conference call. Sources had told the Salt Lake Tribune that Papa John’s had been alerted earlier in the week of Utah’s intention to end the partnership.

The Utah Jazz have notified Papa John’s Pizza of their intent to end their relationship with the company, The Salt Lake Tribune learned Thursday.

According to NBA sources, the Jazz informed Papa John’s of their decision earlier in the week. The national pizza chain had been a team sponsor for over a decade.

This conference call incident isn’t the first run in John Schnatter has had with racially charged controversy. The paint hasn’t even dried on his last controversy where blamed the NFL for not cracking down on their players for protesting during the National Anthem, citing that those had resulted in lower earnings for his company. The NFL players had been kneeling to protest racial inequality and police brutality. As a result, the NFL ended its partnership with Papa John’s at the end of the season.

With this new round of racially charged controversy, the MLB and multiple other teams such as the Orlando Magic have cut ties with the pizza chain. I wrote last Thursday that the Jazz needed to move fast from this fire:

There’s no mincing words now. The Utah Jazz must severe ties with Papa Johns for their promotions and in game food. There’s plenty of other food chains that would better represent the Jazz’s values and not be a reminder of the worst that humanity has to offer. Bring in Cafe Rio for the Postgame win promotion, bring in Pizza Hut, bring in anything other than Papa Johns.

The Utah Jazz need to remove them from the arena, partnerships, promotions, and as a sponsor. They’re not worth the kindness that is in Gail Miller’s heart. Don’t put any of the Utah Jazz players in the terribly awkward and uncomfortable position of having their face and likeness associated with this brand. It’s not fair to them, your organization, or your fans.

The University of Louisville, Donovan Mitchell’s old stomping grounds, severed all ties with John Schnatter, stripping the business school of his name and removing Papa John’s from the arena. Donovan Mitchell even had a suggestion for a more unifying symbol of solidarity for a replacement.

The Utah Jazz took a more measured approach. They consulted with their players and staff. They measured that with the impact that it would make on local franchisees and operators as they were caught in the crossfire of their insensitive founder’s remarks and their bottom line. Ultimately, the Utah Jazz made the right, if not difficult, call to end the partnership and move on. It would have been difficult to market players next to the controversial pizza chain, let alone the Louisville alum and rising superstar Donovan Mitchell.

More so, it was the right thing to do. Even words have consequences. Those who are minorities know more than most that certain words can bring with them decades or even centuries of diminishment. The Utah Jazz will most certainly go on the look for a new partner for promotions for next season. With their newfound popularity there will be a line waiting to fill Papa John’s void, but in the meantime, many Jazz fans won’t have to worry about feeling a twinge of guilt for celebrating a Jazz win next season with a 50% Papa John’s pizza.