Money trail for UofL Trustees: one-sided support for one school

Follow the money, they said. So we did.

Any concerns of University of Louisville supporters about possible relationships between some UofL Trustees and the University of Kentucky appear to be misplaced.  The financial ties are minimal at best based on actual giving patterns.

Lifetime contributions to UofL from the trustees dwarf the giving to UK, with Louisville institution receiving a total of $30.5 million in overall financial gifts as compared to $1.6 million to the Lexington school. That’s according to the responses of UofL and UK to open records requests from Card Game.

A request was submitted to the University of Kentucky Alumni Department and Office of Philanthropy following our recent publication of a list of trustee donations to UofL that prompted some concern about possible UK bias on the board. The UofL records were through August, the UK results were through last week. Here are the results (click on the list to enlarge).

Gifts to the athletics programs from the trustees included $19.2 million to UofL and $72,660 to Kentucky. The bulk of contributions to UofL athletics was from John Schnatter for naming rights to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Four other trustees have given a total of $82,000 to UofL athletics, including David Grissom, James Rogers, Sandra Frazier and Ronald Wright.

Only two UofL trustees have contributed to UK athletics, including donations of $64,150 from Schnatter and $8,510 from Brian Cromer.

UofL also receives a much higher percentage of trustee giving to the universities, with Louisville getting $11.2 million from 11 members, compared to Kentucky receiving $1.55 million from four members of the UofL board.

Academic gifts to UofL included $5.7 million from Schnatter, $5.3 million from Frazier, $108,047 from Grissom, $25,650 from Dianne Medley, and $4,748 from Enid Trucious-Hayes. Gifts of $700 or less have come from William Armstrong, Raymond Burse, Vishnu Tirumula, James Rogers and Cromer.

Brian Cromer, a UK grad who voted against firing Tom Jurich as Athletic Director, is the only UofL Trustee who has given more to UK than Louisville.

— Cromer, a UK grad, voted against firing Tom Jurich at the Oct. 10 meeting of the UofL Board. As stated above, he has given $8,510 to UK athletics but none to UofL athletics. He has given $285 to UK for academics and $75 to UofL for academics.

— William Armstrong, another UK graduate, has given $640 to UofL, all of it for academics, while giving nothing to Kentucky. Bonita Black, the third UK grad on the board, has not made any contributions to either university.

— James Roger, the UofL product who made the motion to fire Jurich, has given $50,350 to UofL athletics and $100 to academics.

— Nitin Sahney, the University of Punjab, India graduate, also has not contributed any money to either school.

— The list of Schnatter contributions to UK academics includes $5,000 to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. All of his gifts come under the auspices of the Schnatter Family Foundation.

— Of Grissom’s $350 in gifts to UK academics, a total of $250 was to the Sanders-Brown Center for Aging.

If following the money is the key to discerning the motives of the trustees, they are obviously more prone to supporting UofL than UK — at least among those who are making actual contributions. If the theory is true, the collective loyalty of the members heavily leans in the direction of UofL.

There is, however, a significant disparity between the top five givers and the rest of the board, with several members seemingly needing to loosen the grips on their purse strings. Board membership should include a strong commitment to supporting UofL’s financial well-being. That would eliminate any questions about loyalties.