Wednesday, August 28

Fencing Update

Former players, staff,  and Coach Emik Kaidanov make statements regarding rush to injustice and lack of due process in the firing of PSU's  highly successful  fencing coach.  

I had the privilege ad honor to serve as the Faculty Athletics Representative(FAR) for Penn State to the NCAA for 30 years (1970-2000 ) and also to the Big Ten for 10 of those 30 years, and I have just completed my 52nd year as a faculty member at PSU (12 years as an Emeritus Faculty member ). During the time that I was the FAR, I had the opportunity of interacting with the Coach of our outstanding Fencing Team, Emik Kaidanov, and his team members. In fact, a number of these athletes were students in one or more of the courses that I taught in the Smeal College of Business. I was shocked and puzzled to learn that Emick had been dismissed from Penn State. He is a person of high integrity who represented Penn State in an outstanding manner for 31 years. I could always count upon him to recruit Student-athletes who would represent us with honor. What has happened is a travesty and an unbelievable disservice to this honorable and special individual who did so much for Penn State.

-- John Coyle

My emphasis added below

Dear Alumni, Parents, Friends and Supporters of the Penn State Fencing Team,

On Tuesday August 20th, 2013 the Penn State Athletic Department fired Emmanuil (“Emik”) G. Kaidanov, the most winning fencing coach in NCAA history after he had dedicated 31 years of his life to PSU! The Department didn't even give him a hearing, a warning, an opportunity to appeal, a probationary period, and/or the opportunity to notify his own team of the Department’s action or give him an opportunity to bid farewell, but instead held a conference call Tuesday evening to tell the fencing team that he had been relieved of his duties. This was a huge shock and surprise not only to Emik and his staff but to all of us who respect and admire him and those of us who have been fortunate to have benefited from his roles as our coach. I am writing you to ask you to contact (via email, twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other way you know of) each member of the Athletic Department and the Board of Trustees to inform them of what a miscarriage of justice and the democratic process this was, and what a terrible loss and outrageous and radical decision this was. I have included the names and emails of the members of the Athletic Department and the Board of Trustees. They need to know that they are ripping the guts out of another of our proud athletic programs at Penn State, but in this case without any justifiable cause. This seems to be the way they have often been doing things over the last 2 years, overreact and not consider the severity of the allegations, and in this case the veracity of the allegations, and the outstanding record of the Coach or the athletes. In this case they obviously did not consider the impact on the athletes, both past and present, nor did they consider the opinions of the current assistant coaching staff or the recruits who chose Penn State fencing at least in part because of Emik Kaidanov's successful record. 795-77 combined record (91.16%winning record) 403-36 Men's record (92% win record) 392-41 Women's record (91% win record) 12 NCAA National Championships(Including 2 invitations to visit the White House with his Championship Teams by Presidents H. W. Bush and Barack Obama and 20 Citations by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate) 9 Second Place NCAA finishes Finished in the top 3 -25 of 29 seasons 4 Time NCAA Coach of the Year (1990,1991,1996,2009) Accomplishments of his Student/Athletes while at Penn State University- 28 NCAA Individual Titles 1 Four Time NCAA Champion Olga Kalinovskaya, Foil, 93-96 188 All-Americans 10 Olympians The first and only United States World Champion, Miles Chamley-Watson Foil 2013 International Coach of World Championship teams, World University Games, Maccabiah Games, Pan American Junior Championships, and World Under-20 Championships.

The facts of the incident that the athletic department made its decision on are as follows. A situation occurred back in February, in which a staff assistant anonymously reported the possible possession of an illegal substance by a member of the Varsity Fencing Team. The accused student-athlete from the Varsity Fencing Team disproved ALL allegations by VOLUNTARILY undergoing immediate drug testing. The results of this drug test were completely NEGATIVE! Subsequent to this, Coach Kaidanov had a rather heated discussion with the staff assistant stating that he believed that she should have reported the incident to him first and, as head fencing coach, he should have been the one to report the allegation in question, which proved to be unfounded. No name calling, threats, or intimidation of any kind were made. No action was even recommended by Coach Kaidanov against the staff assistant, nor was any retaliation taken against this staff assistant by Coach Kaidanov directly or even indirectly; he only had this one discussion with this staff assistant and did not even know that the phone call of the report of suspicious activity was anonymous. The University's decision was - As per Policy AD67 Disclosure of Wrongful Conduct and Protection From Retaliation states: Any member of the University who retaliates against any individual in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary sanctions, which may range from a disciplinary warning to termination or expulsion from the University.

Coach Kaidanov had the following to say-

 "I am very grateful for the opportunity to have coached hundreds of student/athletes during my 31 years at Penn State. I believe that my 12 national championships, the many United States national teams I have coached, the 4 Coach of the year awards, the numerous All Americans and Olympians I have had the honor to coach, and my 91% winning average speaks to the dedication that I have invested into the Fencing program at Penn State. I would like to thank the assistant coaches I have had the honor to coach with over those 31 years. I would especially like to thank Wes Glon who has been a hard working and dependable assistant coach as we built the most winning and most successful collegiate fencing programs in the United States. I wish all of the Student/Athletes that have gone through the Penn State fencing program continued success in all of their endeavors." Sincerely, Em. Kaidanov

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, in search of freedom and justice. We hope you will advise and demand of each member of the Athletics Department and of the Board of Directors to (1) rescind the action taken against Coach Kaidanov, (2) provide the Coach with a proper hearing and a right to appeal, if anyone who reviews the facts feels that a hearing would even be necessary after his prompt reinstatement; (3) issue a formal apology to Coach Kaidanov; and (4) set forth clear regulations to ensure that no action comparable to the action against Coach Kaidanov will be taken against him or anyone else at our university in the future. Please feel free to forward this to anyone who may be impacted by this decision and thank you for your support! Please also feel free to forward a copy of any letter you write to Coach Kaidanov at

"We Are-Penn State" Sincerely,
Chris Balestracci PSU Capt. 1983 Men's Fencing Varsity 'S' Representativ


  1. So who exactly is the "Penn State Athletic Department" that fired this coach, and can a decision such as this be made and implemented by a single person? If not, what chain of command made the decision, and could each of these individuals be required to undergo random drug and alcohol testing? Seriously. PSU apparently has a runaway train being operated by people who are NOT clear-thinking. At the least, this event should provide probable cause for impairment testing of whomever was involved in this firing. Seriously.

  2. Ray,

    Thank you for including the letter from John Coyle. It's all I need to know to realize this is another travesty in the making.

    John was my academic advisor in Business Logistics from 1967- 1969 and the professor for my senior year major course. He is a person of honesty, integrity, sincerity and intelligence. On top of that, John was, by far the best professor I had during my four years at Penn State.

    Jeff Roby