Author’s Note: The following article is biased and will reflect my utter disdain for the Penn State University Athletics Department and their graceless removal of a legend and a gentleman in Emik Kaidanov.

emmanuil kaidanov fencing coach
Emmanuil Kaidanov was fired as head coach of the Penn State fencing team for unspecified reasons. He is now weighing his legal options. (Photo:

“Emik was terminated because he acted like he always did – with honor, respect and deep understanding of his responsibility to his students.”
-Greg Kaidanov


The Facts:

  • In February, 2013, a staff assistant in need of corrective lenses claimed to witness a varsity fencer finish a joint and throw it on the ground. The “joint” was in fact a rolled up piece of athletic tape. Did I say they need corrective lenses? I meant a lobotomy.
  • Following terrorist prevention guidelines to “say something if you see something,” the staff assistant reported the fencer.
  • The fencer, shocked over the allegations as a non-user (that is to say, of marijuana, not athletic tape) VOLUNTARILY submitted to a drug test. The results came back negative.
  • Coach Emmanuil Kaidanov met with the staff assistant to question why they would go above his head and report such a bold accusation to the athletic department without first consulting him. The meeting was reportedly confrontational, though no one will ever know the true words exchanged. I sure would be pissed off over someone making a mountain out of a mole hill too. Again, we’re talking about athletic tape here, folks.
  • Coach Kaidanov was fired per university policy AD67: Disclosure of Wrongful Conduct and Protection From Retaliation, which 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.” He was given no warning and no due process.
  • On Tuesday, August 20, the varsity fencing team was informed that Emik Kaidanov was fired as head coach.
  • Coach Kaidanov hired an attorney to combat the egregious firing.
  • On Friday, August 23, Athletic Director Joyner held a conference call with members of the Penn State Fencing Team. He would not disclose a reason for firing and noted that head coaching responsibilities in the 2013-2014 season would be split between the current assistant coaches.
  • On Thursday, August 29, the Penn State fencing team held an athletes-only meeting. The team proposed a joint letter urging AD Joyner to promote longtime assistant Wes Glon to head coach, who was originally presumed to be Kaidanov’s successor upon his retirement. Glon was named interim head coach a few hours later.
  • Greg Kaidanov (Emik’s son) issued the following comment on his father’s termination: “Coach was not released, he was terminated by the University Moral Officer – somewhat of a throw-back to Soviet Komissars and 1933 Germany. He was terminated because he acted like he always did – with honor, respect and deep understanding of his responsibility to his students.”
  • Greg also noted: “This [moral officer] is a new position at University [sic] and these people are responsible for proper Moral Conduct of staff and students. This is a backlash due to sex scandal. Coach was terminated because he confronted an individual who made an anonimous [sic] accusation against a member of the Fencing Team, which was disproved by a voluntary drug test which was negative. The confrontation consisted of a request to be informed directly in the future about any misconduct by Fencing Team members. He was fired because he took the responsibility for his team members personally and to heart.”

Other Notes:

  • Here’s a list of NCAA Banned Substances. Athletic tape is not one of them. Tape is one of the few inanimate objects you can’t get high on.
  • In 31 years at Penn State, Emik Kaidanov never received a Human Resources complaint/corrective action. Not one.
  • Never, ever discuss Joe Paterno with Penn State alumni. I had never banned anyone from my Facebook Page until this week. Trust me: don’t do it.  
  • Listen, Penn State, if you’re reading this, I have created a chart comparing athletic tape to marijuana. Please print out a copy for your shortsighted staff assistant so she won’t put any coaches in a quandary in the future, okay?


Damien is a competitive fencer and volunteer assistant coach at DC Fencers Club in Silver Spring, Md. Damien was the coach of a London 2012 Olympic Athlete in Modern Pentathlon. He is an A-rated epeeist and was a member of the 2012 North American Cup Gold Medal Men’s Epee Team, and a Silver Medalist in the 2013 World Maccabiah Games.


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