Student-Athletes Defend Former Fencing Coach Emmanuil Kaidanov
Several members of Penn State’s men’s and women’s fencing teams went public Wednesday, in a show of support for their former coach Emmanuil Kaidanov.
The student-athletes attended a press conference at the Ramada Inn and strongly defended Kaidanov, who left the team last month. Kaidanov’s attorney claims the celebrated fencing coach was fired.
Michael Brand, a junior on the men’s team has known Kaidanov for his entire fencing career.
“I came to this school almost 100 percent for Coach K,” Brand says. “I want to see him come back. I Think what the school did was not right.”
When Jen Hudson, a junior on the women’s team, was looking at colleges she definitely wanted one with a fencing program like Penn State’s.
“When I first came here I felt right at home,” Hudson says. “[Kaidanov] was always very accepting to everything and supportive to all of us.”
Kaidanov’s attorney Alvin de Levie, says the coach was fired after an incident involving a member of the women’s fencing team and a secretary. de Levie said the secretary thought she saw the fencer with drugs. A drug test cleared the student of any wrongdoing.
According to de Levie, Kaidanov investigated to see who reported the alleged offense. When Kaidanov found out about the secretary he told the woman she should have come to him first. Penn State called that retaliation against an employee, and Kaidanov was fired because of it, de Levie says.
De Levie claims Penn State offered to hold a grievance hearing for Kaidanov but says Penn State has yet to tell Kaidanov what will happen if there is a hearing.
“What Penn State wants to do is hide truth,” de Levie says. “Penn State doesn’t want to give the coach a reasonable and fair opportunity. Penn state wants to silence criticism.”
Kaidanov has been critical of some Penn State policies in the past, de Levie says, including the anonymous reporting standard.
“He wanted a better policy. I guess Penn State didn’t,” adds de Levie.
Kane Gladnick, a junior from Wynnewood, claims she was the one the secretary reported.
Gladnick says what the secretary saw was a piece of rolled up medical tape she had in her hand. Not long afterwards, she was called to the Penn State Police station. Gladnick voluntarily took a drug test to clear her name.
“He was standing up for me, as he would any of my teammates,” Gladnick says. “It upsets me Penn State dismissed Coach K over the situation.”
Penn State spokesperson Annemarie Mountz says that neither the athletics staff nor any university officials have any comment on the matter, as it is personnel issue.
Kaidanov himself was not present at the press conference.
During his 31 year tenure at Penn State Kaidanov led his teams to a combined 12 NCAA championships.
His teams won NCAA crowns in 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2009,2010. Kaidanov’s fencers also collected 28 NCAA Individual Titles. Ten of Kaidanov’s athletes went to the Olympics and 188 were named All-Americans.