Former NKU athletic director pleads guilty to stealing $311,215
04/17/2014 04:49 PM
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – Former Northern Kentucky University athletic director, Scott Eaton, pleaded guilty on Thursday in Campbell Circuit Court to stealing more than $300,000 from the university over six years.
The 50-year-old Eaton has agreed to serve the maximum term of 10 years in prison, and repay $311,215 in restitution.
NKU fired Eaton in March 2013 for inappropriate relationships with four female employees and an NKU student.
After the dismissal, NKU President Geoffrey Mearns commissioned an audit of NKU athletic department finances and it was after that audit the theft was discovered.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway then joined in the investigation at the request of Mearns, a former federal prosecutor.
“An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General determined that Mr. Eaton stole $311,215 from Northern Kentucky University between January 2007 and March 2013,” said Conway who spoke at a press conference on the NKU campus.
Eaton used several different schemes to defraud NKU, according to NKU and Conway’s investigations.
He used his NKU-issued credit card to purchase $262,106 worth of Kroger gift cards. He then used the gift cards to purchase items for himself. He also purchased items totaling $32,919 with his NKU credit card for his own personal use. He used NKU resources to print and charge postage for items for the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association, of which he was a member. When he sought and received reimbursement for the costs totaling $16,190 from association, he kept the money instead of returning it to NKU.
“At a time when higher education institutions are being asked to accomplish more with smaller tuition increases and declining state funding, the unconscionable behavior of Mr. Eaton is completely unacceptable,” Conway said.
Conway praised NKU President Geoffrey Mearns for his quick action and involving the the attorney general’s office in the investigation.
“Within days of confirming his suspicions as to what may have happened, I got a call from the president,” Conway said. “He was joined by General Counsel Sidebottom.
They came to Frankfort and disclosed to me what they had found.”
Mearns said the university finally has closure with Thursday’s guilty plea.
“It clearly brings closure to this episode but I’ll tell you it’s been a long time since many people even thought of this episode on campus,” said Mearns.
Eaton will be sentenced at noon on May 20 by Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward in Campbell Circuit Court, Division One. Eaton is free on his own recognizance.
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