Son of legendary PSU fencing coach speaks out on firing

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Representatives for legendary Penn State fencing coach Emmanuil Kaidanov plan to protest his firing after his sudden dismissal by the school.

"We can categorically state that it was an overreaction," Kaidanov's attorney, Alvin de Levie, said Tuesday. "It was a mistake. It was wrong and is not legally supported by what occurred. ... We are looking now at what his options are to redress and correct his egregious firing."

Kaidanov, who won 12 NCAA championships and coached the Penn State fencing teams for 30 years, was fired last week, a development first reported by TheFencingCoach.com website Saturday.

His son, Greg Kaidanov, said in a phone interview his father was ordered to attend a meeting last week at which athletic director Dave Joyner and athletics integrity officer Julie Del Giorno, among others, were present. Greg Kaidanov said his father was told he was fired and was given a copy of the university policy he had violated, AD 67. According to Penn State's policy manual, AD 67 was enacted in June 2010 and bans retaliation against individuals who report wrongful conduct.

In February, Greg Kaidanov said, an administrative assistant in Emmanuil Kaidanov's office reported that a fencer was either possessing or smoking marijuana. Greg Kaidanov said his father confronted the assistant and told her she should have first reported the incident to him and that he would then report to the administration. He said the fencer was later drug-tested and cleared.

Greg Kaidanov said the administration met with his father briefly in February about the incident and did not bring it up again until last week when his father was fired.

Joyner, via email, said he could not comment.

In the Penn State manual, AD 67 defines retaliation as "any adverse action taken by a member of the University faculty, staff or student body against any individual" who has reported wrongful conduct in such a way that the university defines as a "Good Faith Report." The punishment for someone who retaliates ranges from "a disciplinary warning to termination or expulsion from the university."

According to Kaidanov's athletic department biography, he immigrated to the United States in 1979 from the Soviet Union. His first year as coach at Penn State was 1983, and since then he accumulated 795 victories and 12 NCAA team championships, the most recent in 2010.

In a letter to alumni, 1983 graduate and Penn State fencer Chris Balestracci wrote: "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."

He called for alumni to contact Joyner and members of the athletic department and Board of Trustees to complain.

psusports

Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05 First Published August 27, 2013 2:45 PM


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