LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - Consider this: You are the chairman of the board of trustees at the University of Louisville. The U of L president tells you that a member of the board was the cash source of payments made to the strippers and prostitutes in the school's sex parties two years ago.
Would you: (a) demand to know the identity of the culprit; (b) pass that information on to authorities for investigation; or (c) keep it too yourself?
Inexplicably, David Grissom, the chairman at the time, chose the latter until he testified under oath last month in U of L's lawsuit against former president James Ramsey that Ramsey had dropped that bombshell on him regarding payments to Katina Powell and women supplied by her to entertain players and recruits in Billy Minardi Hall, the basketball dormitory.
Grissom stepped down as board chairman last month but is still a member of the board.
Grissom’s testimony came during a July 26 deposition in the financial fraud lawsuit that UofL and its nonprofit foundation are pursing against Ramsey and some of his former top aides.
A video of his deposition shows him being asked for an example of Ramsey preventing the board from learning pertinent information, The Courier-Journal and WDRB-TV reported Monday.
"He (Ramsey) told me that one of his board members was the cash source for paying off the strippers in the stripper incident,” Grissom said. "He never disclosed that to the full board."
Grissom added Ramsey didn't identify the trustee and that he didn't ask. He said the conversation occurred in June of 2016 "right in the midst when all that investigation (into the sex parties) was going on."
By remaining silent, he not only brings into question his own lack of judgment, but also could have opened U of L to more penalties in the case, which led to its 2013 national championship being vacated, as well as over 120 other victories during several seasons and probation.
NCAA bylaws require member schools “to report all instances of noncompliance to the Association in a timely manner.” An institution’s perceived cooperation can either mitigate or exacerbate NCAA penalties. If U of L failed to report pertinent information in the Powell case, particularly information that could implicate a university trustee, that could be construed as a “lack of institutional control” and result in stiffer sanctions.
Ramsey’s attorney, Steve Pence, called Grissom’s claim a “complete fabrication,” and said that Ramsey “has no reason to believe the board was behind that (funding).”
“The real question is if Mr. Grissom thinks that’s something Dr. Ramsey should have reported, why didn’t he report it?" Pence asked. "He was the chairman of the board. Why didn’t Mr. Grissom immediately call compliance, as he’s required to. Why did he not notify the NCAA? And there’s one reason for that, and it’s that this is all made up.”
Pence told WDRB NEWS that Grissom’s story is “ridiculous” and merely an attempt to “justify (Grissom’s) behavior” in pursuing the baseless lawsuit against Ramsey.
“I can give you 100 percent assurance that that (information about the board member) did not come from Dr. Ramsey,” Pence said.
U of L spokesman John Karman said the university cannot comment, “as this statement was made as part of ongoing litigation.”
Powell alleged that, working with former U of L assistant coach Andre McGee, she helped arrange 22 parties providing strippers and prostitutes for UofL's basketball players and recruits. She claimed that McGee paid her more than $10,000 over four years, an allegation that McGee denied.
Grissom contends that he did not have "the same duty" to report the allegation as Ramsey did. "I did not have any information other than what Ramsey told me. It's hearsay, and I don't know who the person was."
Grissom joined the board of trustees in June 2016 when Gov. Matt Bevin overhauled the group, leading to Ramsey’s forced resignation for a buyout the next month. Grissom testified that his conversation with Ramsey took place during a lunch at Grissom’s office when the president visited to give what Grissom called “an indoctrination session” about how to be a board member.
When asked why he didn’t tell anyone about Ramsey’s comment, Grissom said: “Well, I didn’t. I am not perfect.”
Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at email@example.com.