UofL whistleblower for Dino Gaudio extortion case files lawsuit against university
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A former employee of the University of Louisville has filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming she was retaliated for reporting an extortion attempt in the men’s basketball program.
The lawsuit was filed by the attorney of former UofL Deputy General Counsel and Associate Athletic Director Amy Shoemaker, who is currently the General Counsel of Miami University in Ohio.
Shoemaker reported directly to former Athletic Director Vince Tyra and to the General Counsel for UofL, according to court documents.
Documents state Shoemaker’s assistance was requested by then-Deputy Athletic Director Josh Heird to terminate two assistant coaches, including former assistant coach Dino Gaudio.
Attorneys state Shoemaker requested another person be in the room with former UofL men’s basketball head coach Chris Mack for conversations with the assistant coaches about their termination.
On March 17, 2021, Mack met with Gaudio without any other counsel present about the assistant coach’s termination. The conversation was recorded by Mack, where Gaudio threatened to report to the media allegations the men’s basketball program violated National College Athletic Association rules in recruiting athletes.
In the recordings, Gaudio demanded a lump sum of a year and a half’s salary and an in-person meeting with Mack the following day to go over a written contract.
Mack went to Heird and Shoemaker following the meeting, according to documents, who then scheduled another meeting where Shoemaker expressed “security concerns” with Gaudio’s emotional state.
Documents state Shoemaker also went to the chief of the University of Louisville Police Department on the night of March 17, providing him with a copy of Mack’s recording and the voicemail Gaudio left for Mack confirming he would return the following day.
Tyra also reported to the extortion attempt to former UofL President Neeli Bendapudi that same night, according to documents.
Bendapudi, in a video conference call on March 18, expressed “frustration and anger” that the UofL Chief of Police was contacted about the incident, documents state.
In the documents, Bendapudi said she was concerned about the negative publicity the incident would cause. Shoemaker told Bendapudi she was the one who had contacted the chief about the extortion attempt.
On March 18, 2021, the police chief told Shoemaker that the FBI was coming to interview Mack, where Tyra and Bendapudi said they would also be in attendance.
In the meeting, Mack said he had deleted a larger part of the conversation and only provided a smaller portion to Shoemaker and the FBI, fearing the longer recording “would reflect poorly on him” as he was trying to diffuse the situation.
The documents state Mack participated with the FBI in the recovery of the recordings.
Following the reporting of the incident, Shoemaker said she noticed a shift in her role in matters she had previously overseen, according to court documents, including revocation from executive sessions, conversations with counsel and team meetings for the UofL board.
Shoemaker’s attorney also said she was frozen out of job responsibilities by the president’s office from the date of her reporting the extortion to November 2021.
On November 29, 2021, Shoemaker’s future as a counsel role was discussed. Her attorney states Bendapudi and General Counsel Angela Curry were believed to have been discussing relieving Shoemaker of her counsel role at UofL.
Shoemaker’s attorney states she was offered a reduction in responsibility and salary paid from the counsel’s office. Documents also said the employment action was not discussed with Tyra.
Documents state Shoemaker was offered a position at Miami University, which she ultimately accepted because of her freezing-out and demotion at the University of Louisville.
Her new position began on Jan. 19, 2022.
The attorney argues Shoemaker was protected under the Kentucky Whistleblower Act, and that the university’s retaliation acts were illegal.
The lawsuit is seeking damages from the university for Shoemaker’s loss of employment and income.
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