NKU paid a former employee $200,000 to prevent sexual harassment lawsuits against the university, according to a report from The Enquirer.
According to the report, the employee, NKU Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Chrissy Soards complained to NKU officials about former Athletic Director Scott Eaton’s behavior in March of 2013. On March 16 Eaton was terminated from the university for ethical violations. Days later Soards signed the $200,000 settlement agreement.
Chris Cole, director of marketing and communications, said in a statement to The Northerner the school made the decision to reach the agreement with Soards so that they could focus on the investigation against Eaton.
In The Enquirer report, Dennis Repenning, Board of Regents chairman, stated that Soards and her attorney had threatened the university with a sexual harassment lawsuit, which began the initial investigation into Eaton.
“The Enquirer reporter suggested that I authorized the settlement in order to keep the Eaton matter secret,” NKU President Geoffrey Mearns said in an email sent to faculty and staff. “That theory is counterfactual, given that I publicly disclosed the matter within 72 hours of authorizing the settlement with Ms. Soards.”
Mearns’ email further explained that the settlement with Soards was reached because after conferring with legal counsel Mearns concluded that Soards had a “potentially credible claim against the university.”
According to Mearns the settlement with Soards is the only agreement the school made in connection with the Eaton scandal. The university is looking to recover the cost through insurance claims and from Eaton himself.
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Other articles on the Scott Eaton investigation:
Investigation on Scott Eaton reveals over $300,000 ‘misappropriated’
“Closure” to Scott Eaton investigation