Ramsey: Reports about University of Louisville compensation 'inc - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ramsey: Reports about University of Louisville compensation 'incomplete and distorted'

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University of Louisville President James Ramsey University of Louisville President James Ramsey
State Auditor Adam Edelen State Auditor Adam Edelen
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – University of Louisville President James Ramsey said Thursday that WDRB's April 19 stories about administrator compensation by the U of L Foundation were “based on incomplete and distorted information” and “very unfair” to the foundation.

In an interview that lasted less than three minutes, Ramsey did not point out any specific issues with WDRB's reporting, but said he looks forward to providing the university's trustees with the correct information.

“There's facts, and there's truth, and there's information, and then there's distortions,” Ramsey said.

Thursday's brief interview on the backside of Churchill Downs marks the first time Ramsey has spoken with WDRB about the foundation compensation issues, despite repeated requests.

The issues first came to light in February when reporters noticed a publicly available tax form from the $1.1 billion foundation showing that Ramsey and two other top U of L executives received million-dollar payouts in 2012-2013, mainly due to the vesting of compensation that had been “deferred” as an incentive for the executives to remain in their jobs several years.

In a pair of stories earlier this month, WDRB reported that some of the “deferred” payments were not sequestered from the executives all that long, including one case in which Ramsey's chief of staff received an extra $53,587 that vested the next day; that two administrators were at times paid by a separate nonprofit organized by the foundation; that Ramsey had received $2.5 million from the foundation in 2007-2008 due to a large retirement payout; and the foundation's former vice chairman received a six-figure no-bid consulting contract shortly after leaving the board.

WDRB's stories were based on foundation documents obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act and on written correspondence with the foundation's outside attorney.

On Tuesday, U of L trustee Steve Wilson wrote Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen to request an “independent accounting” of the university and the foundation.

Ramsey sidestepped a question about Wilson's request of the auditor.

“That's not the issue. The issue is, (WDRB's report) was based on incomplete and distorted information, and when we have the opportunity to provide (the trustees) with the information,” Ramsey said, trailing off.

Ramsey then offered a general defense of the university foundation – which receives and invests U of L donations – saying it provides more support to the university than does state government.

Ramsey also said the university's trustees were fully aware of the foundation's compensation arrangements with administrators – an assertion he had made at the foundation's meeting on March 31.

“Anything with regard to compensation is not a decision made by the foundation; it's decisions made by the Board of Trustees and requested of the foundation to fund. So to imply that, ‘this is the foundation operating in secrecy,' is very unfair,” Ramsey said.

However, as WDRB reported earlier this month, the university was unable to produce records showing what the trustees approved and when.

Later on Thursday, Ramsey spokesman Mark Hebert did not provide any additional comment except: “The matter of compensation is a complex issue that relates to both the Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors of the UofL Foundation” and that the university is gathering additional information.

In an interview Thursday, Edelen said his office is performing “due diligence” to determine whether it should act on Wilson's request.

“Clearly we have some concerns about the role of the foundation as it relates to the Board (of Trustees), and we'll be requesting information and hopefully, that will fully inform our due diligence so we can make a good decision on what to do,” Edelen said.

WDRB.com Reporter Toni Konz contributed to this story. Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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