UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Fired Penn State fencing coach Emmanuil Kaidanov filed a lawsuit against the university, athletic director Dave Joyner and athletics integrity officer Julie Del Giorno Thursday, seeking reinstatement and $3 million in damages.
In the lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia federal court, Kaidanov alleges that he was unjustly fired and accuses Joyner and Del Giorno of conspiring and acting “with the intention of causing the plaintiff to be falsely and wrongfully terminated from his employment.”
The university declined to comment.
Kaidanov was fired in August for allegedly retaliating against an administrative assistant. In February of 2013, the lawsuit states, the administrative assistant anonymously reported one of Kaidanov’s fencers for possessing a marijuana joint. The fencer was cleared of wrongdoing by university police.
The lawsuit claims Kaidanov approached the administrative assistant to gather details about the incident, but did not threaten her. The lawsuit states Kaidanov had a duty to gather information based on NCAA and university rules for people in his role.
Del Giorno began working at Penn State in March 2013. When Kaidanov was introduced to her, the lawsuit states, he “expressed his reservations regarding the Defendant’s job title, and the potential for abuse implicit in such a position.” According to the lawsuit, she asked him about the situation regarding his fencer in July 2013, but did not mention anything about investigating him for retaliation. It wasn’t until an August meeting with Joyner at which he was fired that Kaidanov learned about the accusation of retaliation, and the lawsuit states that no evidence was offered proving he retaliated.
The university bylaw Penn State cited for firing Kaidanov, according to the lawsuit, is AD 67. The bylaw, which bans retaliation against whistleblowers, was enacted in 2010. But the lawsuit states that the administrative assistant who reported the information about the fencer was following an anonymous reporting system that had been in place after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Kaidanov coached at Penn State for 30 years and won 12 national titles. The fencing team won a national title this season, too, its first without him.
Mark Dent: email@example.com, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05.