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Northern Kentucky University dismisses director of intercollegiate athletics, cites ethics issues

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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Northern Kentucky University has fired its director of intercollegiate athletics.

On Monday, NKU President Geoffrey Mearns wrote a letter to the board of regents informing them of the immediate dismissal of Scott Eaton for "his failure to comply with the University's Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct."

"The allegations of his conduct were serious, it was persistent and totally unacceptable and that's the reason I separated him from the university community," Mearns said.

Mearns said an investigation into his decision began Friday, March 8 when he became aware of a pattern of possible misconduct. On Monday, March 11 additional information was received and outside counsel was hired the following day to conduct an independent and thorough investigation.

 

The university's investigation continues to determine the full scope and impact of Eaton's actions, Mearns stated. The nature of those actions was not described in the letter addressed to Terry Mann, chair of NKU's board of regents.

"On a personal note, I am disappointed by this development," Mearns wrote. "But our university is a strong institution -- our strength derives from our collective commitment to integrity and to maintaining the highest levels of personal and professional conduct."

Mearns also emphasized any alleged actions by Eaton would not affect the school's Division I standing in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

"We have no reason to believe, absolutely no reason to believe, his behavior affected our NCAA compliance," Mearns said

Eaton helped to lead the NKU athletic program into the Division I Atlantic Conference in July of last year. Eaton assumed the role of athletic director on July 27, 2009.

Vice President for University Advancement, Gerard A. St. Amand will head the athletic department until a national search for a new AD is complete.

NKU senior Sara Daugherty said she had tears in her eyes when she found out Eaton, who she describes as her mentor, was fired.

"At first I didn't know what to think," Daugherty said. "I had tears in my eyes because I was extremely shocked to read what I was reading."

Daugherty got to know Eaton well through her role as president of Norse Force, the student spirit organization on campus. She said she was given several letters of recommendation from Eaton and that she has used him as a reference on job applications.

She took to Facebook after first hearing the reports, posting " I am beyond shocked. My heart is breaking thinking about my mentor and his family. Just going to keep my head up and think about all the positive memories I have had and all that he has done for me."

NKU sophomore Ethan Dowden said he thought it was bad timing.

"All this bad publicity right now when we go D-1, it's just horrible timing," Dowden said.

NKU junior Brandon Nelson, like many of the Norse, is curious as to what prompted the dismissal.

"I think a lot of students would be interested in finding out why. He's a well-known guy around here," Nelson said.

9 On Your Side reporter Amy Wadas contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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