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Is it Time for Kentucky’s New Governor to Step In and Clean up the Mess that is Louisville?

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Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

It seems every week that there is a new scandal over at Louisville's campus, but is anyone ever surprised?

If so, you must have just returned from a long vacation. I'm not sure what number these newest scandals hold, but it certainly isn't #1.

Let me try to get this right:

1. Pitino sex scandal.

2. The Yum! KFC Center taxpayer boondoggle scandal.

3. Hiring a dirty football coach.

4. Hiring a disgraced football coach.

5. The prostitute scandal. This one seems to be like Agent Orange. A gift that keeps on giving.

6. Six UL employees accused of embezzlement. There are a number of related stories in the Courier-Journal.

And now,

7. The FBI investigation of UL health and other officials. This time it is all about misuse of federal grant money.

This latest may be the greatest scandal yet because it has nothing to do with sports, but it should be remembered that each of these scandals broke while Louisville's Frito Bandito president has been the university's top dog.

Newly installed Governor Matthew Griswold Bevin made no mention of UL's latest in his inaugural address. Hopefully, he was just being kind. No need to wash the dirty laundry on his first day in office. However, Gov. Bevin can do all Kentuckians a favor by starting to clean up the train wreck at the University of Louisville.  The Governor needs to direct newly elected State Auditor of public accounts, Mike Harmon, to complete the state's investigation of the U of L Foundation.

There seems to be something fishy going on between the foundation and its relationship with the U of L Board of Trustees. The state's previous auditor, Adam Edelen, began the investigation and Harmon needs to finish it according to the Lexington Herald-Leader's December 16th editorial. If you read it, you will have to agree.

The decision to examine the foundation grew out of news reports earlier this year by Louisville media about salary supplements, perks and backdated deferred compensation grants by the foundation to top U of L employees, including President James Ramsey, who is also president of the foundation. Although there is cross-membership between the boards, the foundation is not overseen by the U of L board of trustees.

Louisville's President, James Ramsey, made an attempt at damage control by writing this op-ed which was published by both the Herald-Leader and the Louisville Courier-Journal. He claims that the University is facing some "bumps in the road."

There is no mention about the state's investigation of the foundation or the FBI's investigation linked above. The U of L president must only see these investigations as bumps not worth mentioning in his glowing report concerning the university.

Ramsey has been attacked for his leadership on several fronts. One is so trivial that it is ridiculous because of political correctness. Of course I'm talking about the "Halloween" scandal. Ramsey gets a pass from me on this "scandal" because it is a false flag that redirected attention from U of L's real problems.

On January 8th former publisher of the H-L, Tim Kelly, wrote this scathing op-ed which takes Ramsey and U of L to task.

It also might be a very good thing for U of L that state Auditor Adam Edelen was defeated in November. Whether Edelen's successor will pursue the office's examination of the U of L Foundation with equal vigor, if at all, remains to be seen.

But U of L hasn't escaped scrutiny totally, thanks in part to Inside Higher Ed, which has followed the C-J's stories all along, and doing its own reporting. In the long and blistering piece Should the president be held responsible for scandals at the University of Louisville? | Inside Higher Ed, The first paragraph by Washington-based education reporter Kellie Woodhouse sets the tone: "How much has to go wrong at an institution before its top leaders are held accountable?"

If I were to rank the problems over at Louisville, my list (in order of importance) would be:

1. The FBI investigation.

2. The State Audit investigation of the U of L Foundation.

3. The NCAA sex scandal investigation (Sorry Rick, it really isn't all about you.) See this related article from SBN.

While the sex scandal garners all the headlines, the other two are far more important because charges of criminality could result. I have wondered if Pitino's press conferences regarding the scandal are meant to draw attention away of the other two. I also wonder if the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is watching.

Standards cited by SACS in the North Carolina Academic Scandal:

Principle of Integrity: 1.1

This standard expects an institution to operate with integrity in all matters.

Core Requirement: 2.7.2 (Program Content)

This standard expects an institution to offer degree programs that embody a coherent course of study that is compatible with its stated mission and is based upon fields of study appropriate to higher education. Further, coherence should be a critical component of an educational program and should demonstrate an appropriate sequencing of courses, not a mere bundling of credits, so that student learning is progressively more advanced in terms of assignments in a field of study that allows students to integrate knowledge and grow in critical skills.

Comprehensive Standard: 3.2.11 (Control of Intercollegiate Athletics)

This standard expects an institution's chief executive officer to have ultimate responsibility for, and exercise appropriate administrative and fiscal control over the institution's intercollegiate athletic programs, including the academic standards for athletes.

Comprehensive Standard: 3.4.9 (Academic Support Services)

This standard expects an institution to provide appropriate academic support services. Further, the services are designed to strengthen academic programs and ensure the success of students and faculty in meeting the goals of the educational programs.

Comprehensive Standard: 3.7.4 (Academic Freedom)

This standard expects an institution to ensure adequate procedures for safeguarding and protecting academic freedom.

Comprehensive Standard: 3.7.5 (Faculty Role in Governance)

This standard expects an institution to publish policies on the responsibility and authority of faculty in academic and governance matters.

Federal Requirements: 4.7 (Title IV Program Responsibilities)

This standard expects an institution to be in compliance with its program responsibilities under Title IV of the most recent Higher Education Act as amended.

The standards with the check mark can certainly apply to the University of Louisville. Integrity seemingly is a foreign concept. Control of Intercollegiate Athletics, particularly the basketball program, seems to be missing and maybe the Faculty Role in Governance appears to be missing as well.

The bottom line: Louisville's institutional credibility is at stake even if they get a pass in the three scandals of importance. Apparently, only a few in the Falls City seem to care.

"Bumps in the road," indeed.