Former NKU Athletic Director Pleads Guilty to $300,000 Theft, Will Spend 10 Years in Prison
Attorney General Jack Conway and his Department of Criminal Investigations today announced the guilty plea of former Northern Kentucky University Athletic Director Scott William Eaton in Campbell Circuit Court.
Eaton, 50, of Ft. Thomas, Ky., was charged by Criminal Information today in Campbell Circuit Court with one count of Theft by Unlawful Taking between $10,000 and $1 million for stealing $311,215 from Northern Kentucky University (NKU) from January 2007 to March 2013. Eaton entered a guilty plea to the charge, agreed to serve the maximum term of 10 years in prison, and repay NKU $311,215 in restitution. He will also have to pay the mandatory felony fine of $1,000 and court costs.
“At a time when higher education institutions are being asked to accomplish more with smaller tuition increases and declining state funding, the reckless behavior exhibited by Scott Eaton is unconscionable,” Conway said.
Last year, NKU President Geoffrey Mearns terminated Eaton’s employment as NKU’s Athletic Director when Mearns discovered Eaton had engaged in inappropriate relationships with employees and a student. NKU engaged an external firm to audit Athletic Department accounts under Eaton’s control; that audit confirmed suspicions that he had also stolen funds from NKU.
“I want to commend NKU for immediately contacting the Office of the Attorney General about this issue,” Conway said. “The University’s cooperation and assistance helped lead to the successful prosecution of this case.”
Eaton stole the funds by defrauding NKU utilizing several different schemes. First, he used his NKU-issued credit card to purchase Kroger gift cards. He then utilized those gift cards to purchase items for his own personal use. This amount totaled $262,106. Additionally, he purchased items for his own personal use on his NKU credit card. This amount totaled $32,919. Furthermore, he used NKU resources to print and charge postage for items for the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA), of which he was a member. When he sought and received reimbursement for these costs from MBCA, he kept the money for his own personal use instead of returning it to NKU. This amount totaled $16,190. In all, the defendant took $311,215 from NKU.
This case was investigated by General Conway’s Department of Criminal Investigations. The prosecution of this case was handled by General Conway’s Office of Special Prosecutions, with the assistance of Campbell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Michelle Snodgrass.
“I am grateful to Attorney General Jack Conway and to Campbell County Commonwealth Attorney Michelle Snodgrass for their diligent and responsible actions,” said Mearns.
The defendant’s sentencing date is set before Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward on May 20 at 12 p.m. in Campbell Circuit Court, Division One. The defendant is released on his own recognizance.
Photo: Conway and Mearns at news conference on Thursday/provided