LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Papa John's International has donated $30,000 to Simmons College of Kentucky days after the breakdown of an agreement by the pizza company to give the historically black college in Louisville $20,000 for scholarships.
In a letter to the Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby, the president of Simmons College, Papa John's Chief People Officer Marvin Boakye said he was "pleased we were able to resolve our breakdown in communication."
"As we discussed, we have enclosed a check for $30,000 from Papa John's International," the letters states. "Papa John's International and our team members support colleges and universities, including HBCUs, in many ways across the communities where we serve. We hope that the 15 students who will each receive $2,000 scholarships are successful in their studies this year."
The $30,000 is more than a Simmons official said the company had originally agreed to donate. According to the official, the original agreement called for $20,000 to be used for 10 scholarships of $2,000 apiece. Boakye's letter describes a $30,000 donation to be used for 15 scholarships of $2,000 apiece.
Last week, representatives of Papa John's and Simmons pointed fingers at each other, with each institution blaming the other for the breakdown of the original agreement.
That breakdown appeared to be related to the disclosure that Papa John's founder John Schnatter agreed to give $1 million to the college and an affiliated group of black Baptist churches. Schnatter became estranged from the company last year after admitting the use of racial language.
On Sept. 3, the day before Schnatter appeared at Simmons to announce the $1 million gift, a Simmons official notified Papa John's that the college wouldn't accept the $20,000 from the company.
"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," Von Purdy, Simmons College's director of development, said in a Sept. 3 email.
But speaking to reporters on Friday, Purdy said Papa John's chief of diversity and inclusion, Victoria Russell, requested that Simmons formally decline the scholarships once the news of Schnatter's large donation broke.
Purdy said she complied with Russell's request in hopes of maintaining a relationship with Papa John's and keeping the $20,000 "on the table."
"It was directed by Victoria. She wanted me to put something in language to that effect," Purdy said.
Papa John's said it was "absolutely false" that the company rescinded the scholarships.
"We were disappointed when the administration of Simmons College unexpectedly told us last week they would not move forward with the scholarship program we had offered in good faith," a company spokeswoman said on Friday.
Papa John's didn't specifically comment on Purdy's account of the conversation with Russell.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Schnatter on Friday said the pizza mogul had "no involvement with regards to the Papa John's scholarships to Simmons College, and only learned about those scholarships two days ago."
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