Penn State coach reinstated with probation for failing to report sexual misconduct

The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Wes Glon

Pennsylvania State University reinstated its longtime fencing coach to his position Monday after an arbitrator overturned his three-year suspension by a nonprofit charged with reducing misconduct in Olympic sports.

Wes Glon instead will serve a six-month term of probation for failing to report an allegation of sexual misconduct by one of his assistants. During that probation, Glon must disclose his status to any organization within the Olympic & Paralympic Movement where he is employed, volunteers, or otherwise participates.

The coach was suspended in August by a monitoring agency, the Denver-based U.S. Center for SafeSport, for abusing its process and allegedly retaliating against Jennifer Oldham, head coach of the Mid-South Fencers' Club in Durham, N.C. Oldham had said Glon failed to act on her complaint that one of his assistants, George "Gia" Abashidze, grabbed and sexually harassed her on a plane when she was returning in 2017 from a competition with a group of fencing coaches.

Penn State investigated and fired Abashidze. But the school left Glon in place. After SafeSport issued its first sanction, Penn State placed Glon on interim suspension pending the outcome of his appeal.

Glon, who has been on PSU's coaching staff for more than three decades and its head coach since 2013, is permitted to coach while on probation, said his lawyer Jeffrey A. Lutsky. Penn State said Monday he would return to his position immediately.

"Coach Glon vigorously denied SafeSport's claim that he retaliated against the claimant or abused the SafeSport process and we are pleased that the arbitrator ruled completely in favor of Coach Glon on those issues," Lutsky said in a statement.

Though the arbitrator reversed the suspension, probation was imposed because Glon did not report the incident to SafeSport. The incident had already been reported to SafeSport by another party.

A lawyer for Oldham declined to comment, citing a civil suit that Oldham has filed against Penn State and other parties there.

Oldham told The Inquirer in a 2019 interview that she informed Glon about the incident on the plane but that he seemed more concerned about how the allegation would affect Abashidze than about her or Penn State students. He told her he did not plan to report the incident, she said.

Oldham's husband later reported the incident to Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour. Penn State fired Abashidze, but left Glon in place as head coach.

Penn State's coed fencing team for years has been a national contender — the university awards fencing scholarships.