An attorney for ex-Penn State fencing coach Emmanuil Kaidanov condemned the university’s firing of his client and said the former coach will take his time to decide his options moving forward.
Alvin de Levie, who represents Kaidanov, released a statement to the Centre Daily Times on Tuesday making it clear that Kaidanov did not resign of his own accord last week.
“It was a mistake. It was a Penn State over-reaction. There was no reason for his firing,” de Levie said. “We are here to say in due time we will decide what options we have. It was just plain wrong. It was a mistake and they had no reason to do it.”
Penn State has refused to discuss Kaidanov’s dismissal, only issuing a statement that it was a “confidential personnel matter.”
De Levie would not discuss the incident that led to Kaidanov’s firing.
“It was an overreaction to a personnel matter that could not possibly form a basis for his firing,” de Levie said. “Until we have a chance to investigate everything, it was an overreaction. There was no reason to do this. Not to someone who’s been so dedicated to Penn State for over 30 years.”
Kaidanov, in his 70s and a native of the former Soviet Union, is a renowned fencing master and has more than 40 years of coaching experience. He was set to enter his 32nd season at Penn State at the helm of the men’s and women’s programs. His Penn State teams had compiled a 795-77 record on his watch, winning 12 NCAA titles and finishing second nine times. His last team national championship came in 2010, and the Nittany Lions finished third last season with eight individuals earning All-America honors.
His firing came as a shock to fencers he coached.
In an open letter to teammates past and present, former Penn State fencing captain Chris Balestracci described his former coach’s firing as a “miscarriage of justice and the democratic process.”
“We believe that a perversion of justice and of simple decency and common sense were committed against Coach Kaidanov by an action — or more accurately a misplaced overreaction — that would seem much more appropriate for the Stalinist or even post-Stalinist Russia from which Coach Kaidanov emigrated, in search of freedom and justice,” Balestracci wrote. “We hope you will advise and demand of each member of the Athletics Department and of the Board of Directors to (1) rescind the action taken against Coach Kaidanov, (2) provide the Coach with a proper hearing and a right to appeal, if anyone who reviews the facts feels that a hearing would even be necessary after his prompt reinstatement; (3) issue a formal apology to Coach Kaidanov; and (4) set forth clear regulations to ensure that no action comparable to the action against Coach Kaidanov will be taken against him or anyone else at our university in the future.”
Kaidanov was named coach of the year four times, with the last time coming in 2009.
Balestacci could not be reached for comment.