- Associated Press - Friday, June 6, 2014

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Penn State’s fired fencing coach has sued the university and two administrators, saying he was wrongly accused of retaliating against an administrative assistant who mistakenly reported that one of his players possessed marijuana.

Emmanuil Kaidanov said in his 38-page lawsuit that he didn’t retaliate against the assistant but merely told her she should have come to him first so he could report it to university administrators.

The school fired Kaidanov in August, saying his actions violated a school policy that bans “any adverse action” against a university staffer who reports possible misconduct. A Penn State spokeswoman said the university won’t comment on the lawsuit, which also names athletic director David Joyner and Julie Del Giorno, the school’s athletics integrity officer.

Kaidanov’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in Philadelphia on Thursday, seeks reinstatement to the job he held for 30 years and unspecified monetary damages.

Kaidanov led the men’s and women’s fencing teams to 12 NCAA team championships after being hired in 1982.

The lawsuit echoes claims Kaidanov’s former players aired in September.

“All (Kaidanov) wanted was to find the truth,” Kane Gladnick, the varsity fencer who was accused of having the drugs, said then.

The lawsuit doesn’t name the administrative assistant who called an anonymous tip line with a complaint about Gladnick, then a junior from the Philadelphia suburbs.

Gladnick was cleared of any wrongdoing and voluntarily submitted to a drug test, which she passed. Gladnick explained that she had been holding a rolled-up piece of medical tape, which the assistant apparently mistook for a marijuana joint.

University officials fired Kaidanov on Aug. 20 on grounds that his comments to the assistant were retaliatory.

But Kaidanov contends in his lawsuit that NCAA bylaws made it part of his job to ask the assistant what she reported and why, and to “inquire into allegations made falsely by any other staff member of the Athletics Department.”

When Kaidanov did question his assistant he “expressed no intention to take any further action regarding the staff member, threatened no adverse employment actions against her, and undertook no adverse actions against her,” the lawsuit said.

Further, Kaidanov said he didn’t have the power to fire the assistant, alter her pay or affect her promotion opportunities.

Kaidanov is suing Joyner and Del Giorno because he contends they kept him in the dark about the allegations before the August meeting at which he was fired.

“Prior to the meeting, the defendants had already conspired to terminate” Kaidanov, according to the lawsuit.

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