Campus responds to firing with mixed feelings, confusion

Kody Kahle

Former Athletic Director Scott Eaton.

Claire Higgins, Editor-in-chief
March 21, 2013
Filed under Featured Story, News

Northern Kentucky University was stunned by the unexpected termination of Athletic Director Scott Eaton earlier this week. Since March 20, the university has not released any more information about the ethical misconduct Eaton participated in that led to the firing, which has sent the students of the university into a whirlwind of ideas on what might have happened.

On March 20, President Geoffrey Mearns released a letter sent to the Board of Regents stating Eaton’s termination and claimed ethical misconduct as the motivating factor in the decision.

In the letter, which was also sent to all NKU students, faculty and staff, Mearns said that Eaton failed to comply with NKU’s ethical principles and code of conduct.

At this point, Mearns said he is unable to provide specific information about the misconduct because the investigation is ongoing. But he did confirm that there is no information for NCAA compliance issues, no evidence of similar misconduct from other university employees, no evidence of conduct that would give rise to criminal charges and it is not related to university finances.

Because of these responses, students have started talking amongst themselves and some have taken to Twitter to voice their opinions regarding what they think may have happened.

Maggie Altimier, a senior history major, said she’s “…curious as hell. I think it did more damage sending out the email… causing so much speculation. When you don’t tell people the truth their minds go to the worse thing.”

The word going around is all speculation, as most students are unaware of the situation because President Mearns is the only official university member allowed to speak on it.

Starting with the letter and email to the NKU community, Mearns said he is working hard to be as transparent as possible, as opposed to “other institutions who have not acted with the same level of dispatch and have not been particularly forthcoming with the public.”

Compared to other universities that dealt with similar situations, Mearns said the university has taken three steps to set them apart: he acted quickly, he took action and he publicized the information.

“In my judgement, it is in the interest of the university to be honest with all of its constituents,” Mearns said.

Some students, like Norse Force President Sara Daugherty, trust Mearns’ decision, but are still anxious for answers.

“When I spoke to Dr. Votruba about it he assured me, and wants me to pass it along to NKU’s students, that we should trust President Mearns’ decisions…I’m waiting for answers just like everyone else,” Daugherty said.

Mirroring Daugherty’s response, John Jose, current SGA senator and university improvements committee chair, said “his [Mearns’] transparency has been awesome since the beginning.”

Mearns credited his decision to not release more information at the time of publication to protecting the confidentiality of the investigation and the privacy of the individuals involved in the situation.

The investigation into Eaton’s actions began March 8 and with the help of a law firm, Mearns received information that led him to suspend Eaton on March 12.

Mearns said he did not know when he would be able to release more information, the timeline depends on the Cincinnati law firm Dinsmore & Shohl’s investigation.

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