UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State denied the grievance of the longtime fencing coach who was fired over an alleged violation of a university retaliation policy, and his lawyer said Friday he could end up trying to win back his job by suing the university.
A Penn State human resources officer on Friday upheld the decision to terminate coach Emmanuil Kaidanov in August, said lawyer Alvin de Levie. Kaidanov will pursue an appeal process through Penn State, and if that does not work, Kaidanov will take Penn State to court, the lawyer said.
Kaidanov filed a grievance to dispute his firing after he confronted a secretary who made a report to a Penn State hotline that she thought she saw a fencer with a marijuana cigarette. The policy pertains to retaliating against a whistle-blower.
Kaidanov went to the secretary and asked why she didn’t come to him, but Kaidanov did not know the report was made anonymously. The fencer who was the subject of the report voluntarily took a drug test and passed it.
“Penn State’s firing of (Kaidanov) was a huge overreaction, a wrongful termination, and they should immediately reinstate (c)oach,” de Levie said.
Penn State has declined to comment on the Kaidanov situation because it is a confidential employee matter.
Kaidanov was set to enter his 32nd season at Penn State before he was fired.
At a news conference last month, a women’s fencing team member came forward to say she was the one reported by the secretary. Kane Gladnick said Kaidanov was standing up for her and that his dismissal has upset her.
“I love Penn State, and I love going to school here, but reckless accusations of a university employee not only could have affected my future forever but also led to the firing of a great coach,” she said, according to one report.
Penn State administrative policy No. 67 addresses reports of wrongful conduct and retaliation. The policy says that retaliation includes “harassment, discrimination, threats of physical harm, job termination, punitive work schedule or research assignments, decrease in pay or responsibilities, or negative impact on academic progress.”
De Levie has said the coach has been critical of Penn State reporting policies in the past and wanted protection for student-athletes in the event a report turns up unfounded or incorrect.
“This is so much more than a mere employment matter,” de Levie said. “It’s a matter of policy. It’s a matter of coaching following what the NCAA requires, and it involves a policy that is truly rotten.
“And it doesn’t afford students any protection for wrongful anonymous reports.”
Kaidanov’s Penn State teams had compiled a 795-77 record during his tenure, winning 12 NCAA titles and finishing second nine times.
His last team national championship came in 2010. The Nittany Lions finished third last season with eight individuals earning All-America honors.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT.