Former coach takes step to sue UW-Whitewater officials

Former UW-Whitewater coach tells story to national audience
Tim Fader

The former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater wrestling coach has notified the state’s attorney general of his intent to sue a number of officials at the university for improperly dismissing him from his position and for continuing to stymie his efforts to find work.

Tim Fader filed a “Notice of Claim” this week, alleging that he was not renewed as the school’s wrestling coach in the summer of 2014 because he reported an alleged sexual assault committed by one of his recruits earlier last year directly to Whitewater police and not to his supervisors on campus, per university policy. Fader asserts he’s been made a “scapegoat” because his situation arose shortly after the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education announced UW-W was one of 55 schools nationwide being investigated for how it handled sexual assault or harassment allegations.

Wisconsin law requires a notice of intent to sue any state officials to be filed 60 days before legal action can commence.

“He was the Division 3 Wrestling Coach of the Year and he is now unable to find a job,” said Fader’s lawyer, Stan Davis, who is a former UW System regent. “It seems as though he’s being punished here for not giving the university the opportunity to decide how they were going to address, spin, handle this matter and that’s problematic.”

Fader said he’s received numerous inquiries from athletics directors across the country, but when they call UW-Whitewater for a reference check, he’s told shortly thereafter they’ve decided to go in “a different direction.”

Fader alleges that an official from a college in Minnesota contacted UW-W Athletics Director Amy Edmonds earlier this year about potentially hiring Fader and Edmonds said “she wished she could tell him the whole story, but she couldn’t.” The preliminary lawsuit states that comment “created even more mystery and implied misconduct on Fader’s part.”

A spokesperson for the UW System refused comment, stating it was standard policy not to respond to potential litigation.

In February, the Walworth County district attorney declined to bring criminal charges in the case. Further, Walworth County DA Daniel Necci wrote Fader a letter stating there was no evidence that contained “any allegations or accusations of criminal wrongdoing of any kind against or involving a Timothy Fader.”

Fader’s contract was not renewed after the wrestling program completed its most successful year in its existence, finishing second nationally. He coached numerous academic and wrestling All-Americans during his decade on campus.

A university investigation into recruiting practices in the wrestling program discovered two secondary violations that the university reported to the NCAA. There were no penalties given to the university as a result of those violations.

Fader said that’s further evidence he’s no longer on campus because he went straight to the police and not to his campus superiors.

“My reputation’s taken a right turn and I don’t know if you can get that back or how you get that back,” he said. “Damaging, that’s the word. Damaging.”

His lawyer believes the impact Fader’s jobless situation could have on campuses throughout the state is why this remains so important.

“The chilling effect this could have on other faculty members who may be afraid to go to the police now if they become aware of something because Tim went to the police and he ends up losing his job,” Davis said. “It suggests (UW-W) didn’t want an outside agency to be aware of this until they decided what, if anything, they were going to do about it.

“Making a scapegoat of one person who actually handled the situation the way I think most people would have does not do anything to help address this problem in the future.”