Ramsey’s regime: A comprehensive timeline of scandals

By on April 25, 2018

By Arry Schofield —

U of L and the U of L Foundation are suing former president and foundation chair James Ramsey, and many other former administrators for alleged breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent appropriations and improper diversion of funds for personal use. In case you’ve forgotten some of the juicy details of Ramsey’s wild years at the University, The Cardinal has compiled a timeline of events that unfolded:

Note: Parties named in the lawsuit with Ramsey are italicized for reference.

October 2008: Former College of Education Dean Robert Felner steals over $500,000 in funds meant for students and was charged for fraud.

March 2009: U of L is accused of “handing out degrees,” to students who had not met all the requirements, specifically to former graduate student, John Deasy. With Felner’s help, Deasy completes his dissertation in just one semester. Despite the accusations, Ramsey insists the university is serious about the integrity of degrees.

October 2009:  Former men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino is a target of an blackmail attempt by a woman he’d had sexual relations with, Karen Sypher. FBI finds Sypher guilty of lying to the FBI and for blackmailing Pitino.

March 2011: Former director of U of L’s Equine Studies Program Alisha Ward uses close to $463,000 from the program to fun personal home improvements.

October 2011: Former business manager Kerry Johnson steals over $100,000 from the athletic ticket offic, and is ordered to pay it back.

July 2013: Former assistant dean of law school admission Brandon Hamilton promises nearly $2.4 million in unauthorized scholarships to potential students. Despite this, the university still raises enough money for the 104 students who were promised scholarships.

August 2013: Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer Mike Curtin retires from the U of L Foundation and is replaced by Jason Tomlinson.

September 2013: Former director Burt Deutsch resigns after more than 20 years with the foundation.

December 2013: Deutsch signs a consulting contract with the foundation.

April 2014: Former foundation executive director Perry Vaughn is federally indicted for embezzling over $2.8 million in patient payments and university funds for personal expenses.

October 2015: Things went south for Ramsey after he and members of his staff published a group photo in racially insensitive, stereotypical Mexican costumes at a Halloween party.

February 5, 2016: Ramsey imposes a post-season ban against the men’s basketball team.

March 2016: The board of trustees publicly discusses a vote of no-confidence in Ramsey.

June 2016: Governor Matt Bevin dissolves the board of trustees and announces Ramsey’s resignation.

July 2016: Rather than serving as interim president, Ramsey resigns with a $690,000 payout.

September 2016: The James Graham Brown and C. E. & S. Foundations sends notice that they will not provide money to the U of L Foundation until there was a forensic investigation. Each foundation later donates $1 million respectively to help fund the audit.

September 16, 2016: Ramsey officially resigns as chair of the U of L foundation. Kathleen Smith is put on paid leave.

December 2016: Former executive at Thornton’s, Inc., Keith Sherman begins serving as interim executive director/COO of the foundation.

April 2017: Wyatt Tarrant & Combs replaces Stites & Harbison as legal counsel to the foundation. Stites had served as the foundation’s counsel for 15 years.

June 8, 2017: Alvarez & Marsal release results of a forensic investigation of foundation. The audit found incriminating evidence, revealing the foundation’s overspending, while hiding transactions from its directors and the media.

June 22, 2017: Smith is fired by the foundation.

July 18, 2017: Curtin’s successor, Tomlinson is fired by the foundation.

February 2018: The foundation’s legal team hires a consulting group to research the extent of overcompensation among previous foundation officials.

April 25, 2018: The board of trustees and foundation file a joint suit against Ramsey, Smith, Deutsch, Curtin, Tomlinson and Stites & Harbison.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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