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Ousted NKU Athletic Director Had Inappropriate Relationships With Student, 4 Employees

Two and a half weeks after the surprise announcement that Northern Kentucky University had suddenly fired athletic director Scott Eaton, the school's president is releasing more information about why.

NKU President Geoffrey Mearns sent an email to the campus community at 2:30 Friday afternoon. "Three weeks ago, I informed you of my decision to terminate Scott Eaton’s employment as our University’s athletics director. At that time, I indicated that I would be forthcoming and candid, while also preserving the integrity of the ongoing investigation. Consistent with that commitment, I am providing you with a copy of a letter that I sent earlier today to Mr. Terry Mann, Chair of the Board of Regents."

In the letter to Mann, Mearns explained that the investigation into Eaton's activities while director of athletics involved inappropriate relationships with four women, two of whom he supervised. Three are no longer employed by the university. 

Eaton, according to Mearns's letter, also admitted to an intimate relationship with a student in a class that Eaton instructed. That woman is no longer a student at the university.

"This pattern of misconduct, which he acknowledged, constitutes a violation of our Ethics Principles and Code of Conduct," Mearns wrote.

The president went on to say that further actions in the investigation will include a review of the financial practices within the athletics department. Dinsmore & Shohl, the Cincinnati-based law firm leading the investigation, has retained the accounting firm of Clark Shaefer Hackett, also based in Cincinnati, to assist in a "thorough" review.

"This financial review reflects our collective commitment to ensuring that we understand the full scope of Dr. Eaton's management," Mearns wrote. "Doing so will also help us determine whether any other corrective actions are necessary."

Mearns said that he expects this portion of the investigation to take one month to complete.

Eaton was named athletic director in July 2009, replacing Jane Meier who served in the role for more than two decades.

Prior to NKU, Eaton worked at Brown University in Providence, R.I., as special assistant to the athletic director and assistant men’s basketball coach. Eaton graduated from Bowdoin College in 1986 after participating in basketball, lacrosse, cross country and track.

NKU is participating in its first full year of NCAA Division I athletics and Eaton recently helped the university launch its Go Gold campaign which aims to raise $6 million for its athletics programs.

Eaton's ouster was followed by the resignation of Chrissy Soard on March 29. She had served as assistant athletic director for compliance and student athlete services for six years. The university has not commented on whether Soard's resignation is related to the Eaton case.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Eaton (right) in a photo sent to the media at the time of the announcement that he had been hired, with former NKU president Dr. James Votruba (left)