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Former NKU athletic director pleads guilty

By Cliff Peale and Carrie Blackmore Smith The Kentucky Enquirer

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - Disgraced former Northern Kentucky University Athletic Director Scott Eaton who admitted last month that he stole $311,215 from the university â “ equal to full NKU tuition for more than 40 students â “ will serve up to 10 years in prison for his crimes.

Campbell Circuit Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward sentenced him Thursday to 10 years in prison. He will be eligible for a parole hearing in as soon as two years.

"I'd like to say to the NKU community that I am very sorry for the poor decisions I made," Eaton said in a quiet voice before being handcuffed and taken into custody. "I'm sorry if I hurt any individual or the institution. ..."

NKU General Counsel Sara Sidebottom said Eaton's theft had hurt the university at the same time it was cutting spending, so the crime affected students and professors.

"These funds would have alleviated some part of the pain in having to make those cuts," she said.

Sidebottom said NKU would try to recover as much as it could from Eaton, but did not take a firm stance on whether he should be granted parole.

"At this point, it's in the hands of the parole board," she said after the sentencing. "We don't have any interest in that."

Eaton has returned gift cards totaling more than $5,500, but has no other way to repay most of that money, his lawyer, Ben Dusing, said.

Eaton will be assessed at a Kentucky Department of Corrections facility in La Grange â “ to determine whether he is a security risk and what services he will need â “ before being placed in one of 12 Kentucky prisons, spokesman Todd Henson said. An assessment can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months, Henson said.

Eaton - who led NKU's conversion to Division I athletics - had worked as an administrator in NKU's athletic department since 1998, as an assistant athletic director and then as director from August 2009 to March 2013, when he was fired for having improper relationships with four female NKU employees and one adult student.

Consequently, the ethics probe uncovered more than the affairs.

It also led to an external audit of accounts under Eaton's control, confirming suspicions that he had also been defrauding the university since 2007, using his NKU-issued credit cards for his personal use.

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