Ex-UK star Farmer accused of misusing state ag funds

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Former Kentucky agriculture commissioner and University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer was accused of misusing state funds and abusing his position in a federal indictment unsealed Monday.

The indictment charges him with using his state position from 2004 to 2011 to obtain thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts, hotel rooms, clothing and computers. It also alleges he hired friends who did little or no work for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“Throughout his tenure, Farmer wrongfully used public funds and KDA resources to obtain goods and services for himself and his family,” the 13-page indictment said.

Farmer, 43, plans to plead not guilty when he is arraigned April 30, attorney J. Guthrie True said. He is charged with four federal felony counts of misappropriating state funds and one count of soliciting goods. The counts carry a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

True said he was disappointed but not surprised by the charges, which they knew was coming for several weeks. He called the federal indictment “a dangerous precedent,” saying the issues raised in it are state matters.

“The manner in which the elected commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture conducts his business is a political, not a legal, issue,” he said.

In March, Farmer was charged with 42 Kentucky ethics violations, a state record.

The indictment, which was handed up Friday, said Farmer used an account that included state funds to purchase an excessive amount of gifts for visiting state agriculture commissioners for a 2008 national conference. The indictment alleges he kept the gifts that were left over, including customized Remington rifles, embossed knives, watches and personalized cigar boxes.

The grand jury also accused Farmer of using agriculture department funds to benefit his family and friends, including naming at least three people as “special assistants,” including, his girlfriend, who did little or no work for the department.

Farmer directed the “special assistants” to perform personal tasks for him on work hours, including building a basketball court at his home and installing flooring in his attic.

Kansas State

Starting point guard Rodriguez transferring: Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez decided to transfer so that he can be closer to his mother and two younger brothers in Puerto Rico.

Rodriguez played through several injuries during his sophomore season, averaging 9.8 points and 4.2 assists in helping the Wildcats win a share of their first conference championship in 36 years.

Rutgers

Board to meet to discuss Jordan’s contract: In Newark, N.J., Rutgers’ board of governors will meet Tuesday to sign off on a contract that will allow Los Angeles Lakers assistant Eddie Jordan to take over the Scarlet Knights’ scandal-marred program.

The university said Monday morning that the board is expected to discuss the proposed appointment in a conference call. In a statement released later in the day, the athletic department announced a basketball press conference at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, in which Jordan will likely be introduced.

Jordan reached a tentative agreement on a five-year contract last week.

DePaul

Hamilton commits to Blue Demons: In Chicago, DePaul signed Chicago native Thomas Hamilton Jr. to a national letter of intent to join the Blue Demons next season. Several rating organizations have placed Hamilton, 6-feet-10, among the top 30 centers in the nation.

He’s the son of former NBA player Thomas Hamilton.

Alabama

Women’s coach Hudson reassigned: In Tuscaloosa, Ala., Alabama reassigned women’s basketball coach Wendell Hudson to an administrative role.

Athletic Director Bill Battle said Monday that it was a mutual decision after several weeks of discussions with Hudson. The Crimson Tide went 68-87 and 14-64 in Southeastern Conference games during Hudson’s five seasons.

He had spent the previous five years as Alabama’s associate athletic director for alumni relations.

Hudson was Alabama’s first black scholarship athlete. He was a forward from 1970-73 and was SEC player of the year as a senior.

Alabama said a national search for his replacement will begin immediately.

Tennessee

Summitt’s life chronicled in film: In New York, the story of Pat Summitt’s life debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The Hall of Fame coach, who has early onset dementia, was part of the audience Sunday for a screening of the documentary “Pat XO.”

Summitt’s son, Tyler, is the lead storyteller, spending time with his mother on a couch in their home going through a scrapbook of her life. The film starts from Summitt’s earliest days and goes through her retirement from coaching last April.

The filmmakers gave cameras to those who know the Tennessee coach best. Former players Tamika Catchings, Chamique Holdsclaw, Michelle Marciniak and Candace Parker all told stories of their beloved mentor.

The show is part of ESPN Films’ Nine for IX documentary series. It will be broadcast July 9.

Niagara

Casey named coach: In Buffalo, N.Y., Niagara University hired Long Island University Post’s Chris Casey as the Purple Eagles men’s basketball coach. Casey accepted the job Monday morning and was introduced at a campus press conference.

The Division II Pioneers went a combined 62-25 in three years under Casey, including an 18-9 finish last season. He will replace longtime coach Joe Mihalich, who left to take over at Hofstra two weeks ago.