RICHMOND, Ky. — The EKU Board of Regents voted in a special called meeting Friday, June 23, to settle ongoing litigation with the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). In April 2023, Eastern Kentucky University and the OVC were ordered by 48th Judicial Circuit Judge Shepherd to attempt to resolve this dispute. EKU has agreed to pay $750,000 to the conference in exchange for a full release of all claims and a dismissal of the lawsuit.
In August 2021, the OVC filed a suit seeking a $1 million exit penalty which they alleged was owed pursuant to conference bylaws. EKU claimed it should not be compelled to pay the exit penalty as the agreement was never reduced to a contract with the school or approved by the Board of Regents, a requirement under Kentucky law.
“As a public agency with a fiduciary responsibility to ensure proper spending of public funds, we stand by our decision to not pay an exit penalty we believe was not legally binding. This $1 million contingent financial obligation was never approved by the EKU Board of Regents,” said university President David McFaddin. “However, Judge Shepherd ordered EKU and the OVC to confer about amicably resolving this dispute, and as a result of those discussions, a settlement agreement was reached allowing both EKU and the OVC to move forward. We are pleased to put this matter behind us and look ahead to another exciting year providing exceptional experiences for our students through EKU athletics.
“We are proud of our legacy as a member of the OVC. During our time in the conference, EKU experienced some of our greatest championship years,” said McFaddin. “We made the strategic decision in 2021 to elevate the profile of our institution and to position EKU in a competitive arena that strengthens our student-athlete recruitment efforts and our general student body enrollment. This settlement allows both parties to move into the next academic year with a renewed focus on student-athlete success.”
The school is returning $419,213 in final distribution payments originally received from the OVC Conference, plus an additional $330,787 from athletics revenues.
Since joining the ASUN Conference in 2021, EKU has captured conference titles in football and men’s cross country; EKU student-athlete, Ahmed Jaziri, earned an individual national championship with the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Championships; EKU’s baseball team won the ASUN West Division title in 2022; EKU’s soccer team became the first in 25 years to advance to the ASUN semifinals in each of its first two seasons in the conference; and EKU boasted the 2022 ASUN Women’s Golfer of the Year, Ragnhildur Kristinsdottir.