UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The son of legendary Penn State fencing coach Emmanuil Kaidanov is questioning the recent firing of his father and said the family has plans to protest his dismissal.
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 on Aug. 24.
Greg Kaidanov said in a phone interview that his father was ordered to attend a meeting early 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 encompasses the protection from retaliation of individuals who report wrongful conduct.
Greg Kaidanov said his father was accused of retaliation against an administrative assistant relating to an incident that occurred in February. 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 that she should have first reported the incident to him and that he would then report to the administration. He said the fencer was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
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.
"There was no explanation,"
He continued: "He was asked to leave his phone and keys and they gave him a copy of the rule."
Joyner said via email, "As this is a confidential personnel matter I can't comment."
AD 67 essentially grants protection for whistleblowers. 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."
Penn State never formally released a statement about the dismissal of Kaidanov. Its first comment on the matter came over the weekend after The Fencing Coach reported his firing and called the situation a confidential matter.
According to his bio, which has been removed from the Penn State athletics website, Kaidanov 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, his most recent one coming 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.
Reached at his home this afternoon, Kaidanov declined to comment. His son said Kaidanov was meeting with an attorney today.
"He knows the chances of him being reinstated are very slim," Greg Kaidanov said. "After 31 years, he expected a little more than just a kick in the butt, give your keys and your phone and get out. He expected something a little more than that. It's not the question of money. It's the question of honor and personal dignity and the lack of the same for the university."