Curiously absent from the otherwise thorough Wikipedia page on Scott K. Ginsburg, the Dallas-based digital media entrepreneur and founder of Boardwalk Auto Group, is any mention of insider trading judgment the SEC won against him in 2002 for illegally passing non-public information on EZ Communications, Inc., a radio conglomerate, to his brother and father.
But that case is at the center of a federal lawsuit Ginsburg filed in Dallas yesterday alleging that his alma mater, Georgetown University, took his money then reneged on a promise to name its fitness center in his honor.
Ginsburg, according to the suit, took night classes at Georgetown's law school while working as a U.S. Senate staffer, graduating with his law degree in 1978. He subsequently built a small media empire and accumulated considerable wealth.
It was in late 1999 that Georgetown officials began to court Ginsburg in earnest, according to the suit. That was when the school's vice president for strategic development and external affairs (aka its chief fundraiser) first paid a visit to Ginsburg's Dallas home and outlined plans for a major expansion of the law school.
The next fall, the university issued a press release announcing that the "Scott K. Ginsburg Health and Fitness Center" was being made possible thanks to a $5 million donation from Ginsburg.
According to the lawsuit, the agreement with the university provided that Ginsburg's name "shall be prominently etched and displayed above the main entrance of the Fitness Center in a manner (and with similar boldness, prominence, and importance) similar to that of the Edward Bennett Williams Law Library, the Bernard S. & Sarah M. Gewirz Student Center, and Bernard P. McDonough Hall" and that a photo and description of Ginsberg would be prominently placed inside the building. It also promised that the university would include the Scott K. Ginsburg name whenever the fitness center was referenced.
Over the next decade, Ginsburg says university leaders continued to butter him up.
"Ginsburg was invited to join the Georgetown Board of Visitors, welcomed to university functions, invited on university trips, and generally embraced by the university, all with the goal of extracting ever more money from him," the suit says.
Georgetown University President John DeGioia was a frequent visitor, once bringing a gift of baby clothes for Ginsburg's newborn son. In 2003, Ginsburg pledged several million more.
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All of this, Ginsburg says, was predicated on the understanding that the fitness center would bear his name. The university did attempt to convince Ginsburg to amend the original naming agreement in the wake of the SEC ruling, but he refused, and, as late as 2009, the university continued to refer to the "Scott K. Ginsburg Sport & Fitness Center" in correspondence with Ginsburg. The SEC ruling was never again raised as an issue.
But Georgetown did not in fact name the fitness center for Ginsburg. Ginsburg first demanded to know why on March 5, 2010 and spent the next three years attempting to convince them to follow through on their agreement. Finally, last month, Ginsburg had a face-to-face with DeGioia. According to the suit, Degioia told Ginsburg he had no recollection of any promise to name the fitness center in his honor.
Ginsburg was not happy. He had given the university $7.5 million on the promise that his name would become a permanent part of the Georgetown campus, only to have those promises broken. In yesterday's lawsuit, he alleges fraud and breach of contract on the part of the university. Most of all, he wants his $7.5 million back.