Baumgartner leaving athletic director role, moving into university advancement

Category:  News
Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 at 5:52 PM

Bruce Baumgartner, Edinboro University athletic director since 1998, is leaving the role, effective at the conclusion of the spring semester. The announcement was made by the university on Wednesday. 

Baumgartner is shifting to assistant vice president for university advancement.

“I have been part of the Edinboro University community for more than 30 years,” Baumgartner stated in the release. “It has been an honor to lead Edinboro’s athletics program and to support our student-athletes.  I look forward to serving the university in this new capacity, which will enable the new athletic director to focus on matters other than fundraising.”

The move comes amid Edinboro University volleyball coach Melissa Soboleski’s civil lawsuit claiming gender discrimination, retaliation and unequal pay, which will now be sent to a mediator instead of settled in court. Patricia L. Dodge was assigned to the case by Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan on March 21.

The lawsuit, which Soboleski initially filed on Jan. 25, has named Baumgartner, the university and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) as defendants. It was filed after Soboleski felt she was not receiving adequate compensation as compared to her male counterparts in “tier-1 sports” (women’s basketball, men’s basketball and wrestling).

She additionally claimed Baumgartner has retaliated against her since filing the suit.

A section in the lawsuit court documents labeled, “facts pertaining to unlawful retaliatory conduct directed toward plaintiff,” claims that after filing a social equity complaint on April 8, 2016, “Baumgartner began approaching plaintiff (Soboleski) in a threatening manner with the intent of intimidating her, referring to the social equity complaint as ‘very interesting’ and ‘full of inaccuracies.’”

The lawsuit claims Baumgartner “continued and increased his pattern of retaliation” against Soboleski in issues such as recruitment, passes for home athletic events, and an Aug. 8, 2017 internal complaint against Soboleski “for a purported misuse of funds,” filed by Baumgartner’s secretary. Soboleski “ultimately was cleared of any wrongdoing; nonetheless, her colleagues within the athletic department continue to ostracize her as a result of the accusations,” claims the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit was filed Jan. 25 and Baumgartner was added as a defendant on Feb. 22. The amended complaint claimed that Baumgartner subjected Soboleski to “the deprivation of her rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the United States Constitution by denying her equal protection of the law on the basis of her sex (female) in contravention of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The university did not relate the move to the lawsuit in their release.

Katherine Robbins, assistant professor and assistant chairperson of Edinboro’s department of counseling, school psychology and special education, will serve as interim athletic director, beginning May 14. 

Dakota Palmer can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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