Watchdog

Former Coldstream director resigns at the University of South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — John Parks, the director of the University of South Carolina's troubled Innovista research campus and former director of the University of Kentucky's Coldstream Research Campus, resigned Tuesday.

USC President Harris Pastides told the USC board of trustees at a meeting that Parks will leave in 30 days.

The board also received the results of an internal investigation into whether Parks properly vetted fired developer Kale Roscoe, who, records show, served a federal prison term for felony tax evasion in 2003-2004.

The report said Parks was the only one with knowledge of the felony before May 2009.

Parks and Roscoe teamed up at UK's Coldstream Campus before Parks moved to South Carolina in 2007. Roscoe's Lexhold International Center for Technological Innovation at Coldstream is incomplete and substantially behind schedule. Only one building has been built in what was intended to be a two-building development packed with high-tech businesses, including centers for UK's information technology and medical center information technology. The project has numerous unpaid bills and several lawsuits, including one that says that Roscoe and his partners defaulted on their loan.

Various contractors who have not been paid have either filed mechanics' liens in the Fayette County clerk's office or filed lawsuits that name Roscoe's companies and UK. Fayette Circuit Court records show UK responding that it can't be held responsible for such debts because of sovereign immunity.

UK has taken no legal action against Roscoe or his companies, although it has "had discussions" with him, University spokesman Jimmy Stanton said. Stanton declined to comment further Tuesday afternoon, saying Parks' resignation "is a University of South Carolina matter, and we have no comment."

USC officials and board members, including Pastides, have said they weren't aware of Roscoe's past.

The USC board's executive committee voted to give Roscoe a final buyout deal of $890,000 for what he has put into the project and for work he has done since 2008. The developer said he paid $650,000 to buy into the deal with Innovista's first private developer, Craig Davis of Raleigh, N.C.

Roscoe was fired in South Carolina last month after he could not land financing to build a private research building in Innovista.

Innovista is seen as a key to the region's transformation into a high-tech economy. It is intended to marry private entrepreneurs with discoveries made by USC scientists to launch companies and create jobs.

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