Penn State

Initial court date set in ex-fencing coach Kaidanov’s lawsuit against Penn State

A federal judge has set a date for an initial pretrial conference in the lawsuit of a former fencing coach against Penn State.

Emmanuil Kaidanov is suing the university over his termination.

Kaidanov, a fencing master who spent 31 years at Penn State and was twice honored as the NCAA’s coach of the year, was dismissed in 2013, after officials said he retaliated against an employee who reported a member of the fencing team for suspected possession of marijuana. Kaidanov denies the allegations.

Judge Gene Pratter, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, set an initial pretrial conference for March 31 in Philadelphia.

The university responded to Kaidanov’s complaint. Pratter had previously dismissed some charges, including removing then-athletic director Dave Joyner and athletic integrity officer Julie Del Giorno as defendants. That left just two points of contention: the idea that Kaidanov was denied his due process in the firing, and that the university committed a breach of contract.

“Plaintiff never had a contract for employment with Penn State. Rather he was at all times an at-will employee,” university attorney James Keller wrote.

The university also denied Kaidanov’s interpretation of the exchange with the employee who reported the fencing team member, which he painted as “engag(ing) in further inquiry.”

“Rather, plaintiff retaliated against a university employee for making a good faith report of suspected wrongful conduct,” Keller wrote.

Additionally, they denied that the fencer was “cleared” of allegations of possession of marijuana, saying only that she was not charged and admitting that she tested negative for illegal substances.

The university asked Pratter to deny the suit in its entirety.