Fresno State Settles with Ex-AD Over Termination | Athletic Business

Fresno State Settles with Ex-AD Over Termination

California State University, Fresno, has settled former athletic director Jim Bartko's wrongful termination claim, essentially agreeing to honor the remainder of Bartko's contract, according to The Fresno Bee.

In a 13-page claim that was filed in June 2018 with the CSU chancellor’s office, Bartko sought $3 million in damages for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation and breach of contract. He was near the end of the third year of his five-year contract worth $290,000 per year when he was told Nov. 6 that he could resign or be fired.

When the claim was filed, the university cited the agreement that Bartko had signed and that he had received severance of $75,000. Bartko claimed that he was not given time to fully read the resignation documents presented to him or review his options, but under duress signed a brief statement of resignation and a settlement agreement and release that included a waiver “of any right (he) may have under law or regulation to seek reconsideration or to revoke his resignation.”

The release and waiver, he claimed, were invalid and unenforceable as a matter of law.

In January 2017, after receiving treatment at Sierra Tucson, Bartko revealed in an interview with The Bee that he had been molested as a child by a Catholic priest. He went through a second period of treatment that July.

In the claim, Bartko alleged university president Joseph I. Castro and high-ranking administrators orchestrated a "smear campaign" that led to his resignation. The university, its athletic corporation, Castro, vice president for administration and chief financial officer Debbie Adishian-Astone and then-interim athletics director Steve Robertello were named as parties in the claim. Bartko also said that he suffered retaliation and discrimination on the basis of his mental condition and that the university also failed to accommodate his disability. 

The claim also details and debunks concerns Castro had regarding Bartko’s job performance, including expense reimbursements and supporting documentation.

In March 2018, Castro and Astone addressed concerns that Batrko had been seen drinking alcoholic beverages at business-related lunches or when working on behalf of the university, and had unpaid dues at the San Joaquin Country Club.

Last July, Bartko was put on a performance improvement plan, which he claimed was a pretextual act of discrimination and/or retaliation.

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