The Louisville Cardinal

A timeline of U of L scandals under Ramsey

President James Ramsey looks on as the Cardinals play.

By Briana Williams and Olivia Krauth–

U of L has undergone improvements since President James Ramsey arrived in 2002, but a stream of scandals has some relieved over his offer to resign.

Here is a look at U of L’s largest scandals in Ramsey’s almost 14 years as president:

October 2008: Former College of Education Dean Robert Felner stole over $500,000 in funds meant for students and was indicted for fraud. Ramsey called the charges against Felner “anonymous crap” despite staff and faculty complaints about Felner. Former Provost Shirley Willihnganz and Ramsey later apologized for supporting Felner for so long.

March 2009: The university was accused of “handing out degrees,” specifically to former graduate student, John Deasy. Felner was said to use his power to allow Deasy to register and defend his dissertation in one semester. Ramsey insisted the university is serious over the “integrity of degrees” and “does not give away degrees.”

October 2009: Men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino was a target of an extortion attempt by Karen Sypher, a woman he’d had sexual relations with. The FBI found Sypher guilty of lying to the FBI and extortion against Pitino.

March 2011: Alisha Ward, former director of U of L’s Equine Studies program, used nearly $463,000 from the program’s funds to make home improvements and buy personal items. Investigators believed the mishandling of funds should have been found sooner.

May 2011: Former chemistry department business manager Susan DeWitt allegedly stole over $70,000 from the program.

October 2011: Former business manager Kerry Johnson, stole over $100,000 from the athletic ticket office. Johnson was ordered to pay it back in restitution.

July 2013: Brandon Hamilton, former assistant dean of law school admission, promised nearly $2.4 million in unauthorized scholarship aid U of L didn’t have to potential students. The university raised the money for the 104 students Hamilton promised the aid to.

April 2014: Former U of L Executive Director Perry Chadwyck Vaughn was federally indicted for embezzling over $2.8 million in patient payments and university funds for personal expenses.

December 2014: A lawyer’s report revealed details about former Vice President of Human Resources Sam Connally termination in Dec. 2014. The report included claims of Connally being a “toxic, abusive” leader.

July 2015: The U of L community scrutinized Ramsey’s salary when U of L’s Board of Trustees granted him a three percent raise. At the time, Ramsey made nearly two-and-a-half times more than the average salary for an ACC university president.

October 2015: In her book “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” Katina Powell claimed she supplied the men’s basketball team with strippers for parties with recruits from 2010 to 2014. The allegations gained national attention, and the NCAA investigation is ongoing.

October 2015: Ramsey and members of his staff dressed in stereotypical Mexican garb at a Halloween party at Ramsey’s house. The situation caused outrage and student protests, eventually receiving multiple apologies from Ramsey.

December 2015: The FBI is investigating two U of L officials, David Dunn and Priscilla Hancock, over potential misuse of grant money. Dunn and Hancock have been on paid leave since Dec. 9.

February 2016: A former conflict of interest officer accused Ramsey of misconduct in a lawsuit. The officer, Robin Wilcox, alleged Ramsey knew of Dunn and Hancock’s misuse of funds for over a year before reporting it. Other claims included Ramsey skirting conflict of interest rules and Wilcox fearing retaliation.

March 2016: Multiple trustees had enough of the bad publicity and discussed a vote of no-confidence in Ramsey in their March 1 meeting. While not able to legally take the vote, the motion sparked campus discussion and surveys in the staff senate, faculty senate and SGA.

March 2016: Ramsey imposed a post-season ban against the men’s basketball team amidst an ongoing NCAA investigation.

Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal