Crime & Courts

Former Wichita State vice president sues university, president

Former Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton and WSU president John Bardo at Koch Arena. (April 15, 2013)
Former Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton and WSU president John Bardo at Koch Arena. (April 15, 2013) File photo

A former Wichita State University vice president has sued the university and President John Bardo for alleged violations of Title IX – a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination.

The suit was filed by Wade Robinson, the former vice president of student affairs at WSU, in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.

In the suit, Robinson claims he was retaliated against for voicing concerns about how notification of a rape accusation with a student-athlete was handled and it eventually cost him his job. That retaliation, the suit says, is a violation of Title IX.

It says that in April 2013, Bardo and then-athletic director Eric Sexton delayed telling Robinson for four days that a WSU basketball player had been accused of rape and that the Wichita Police Department was investigating the case.

The notification occurred 19 days after the player had taken part in the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. The player was not arrested and no charges were made.

“WSU retaliated against him for being too good at his job, which we see as protecting students,” said Dan Curry, attorney at Brown and Curry, who represents Robinson.

“We think what he was doing was trying to follow the law and in doing that he angered his superiors.”

Under Title IX, universities are required to begin a prompt internal investigation headed by the office of student affairs – Robinson’s former office. Sexton was later named to Robinson’s position.

“I’m looking to clear my name and feel that the legal system is the best venue to pursue that,” Robinson told The Eagle. “I’m looking for justice overall.”

The suit also mentions another allegation that Robinson was investigating in January 2014. That rape allegation involved a member of the WSU men’s track team. Later, the suit says Robinson was “again threatened by Bardo with the termination of his job.”

Robinson was hired at WSU in 2009. In July 2014, he was demoted and removed from the university’s executive team. Later, his contract was not renewed and his employment ended last June.

Since June, the suit says Robinson had applied for 24 jobs, for which he was not selected. He eventually got a job at a community college in Iowa, where he earns $70,000 less a year, according to the suit.

“The lawsuit by Dr. Robinson involves a personnel matter which will now be addressed in the legal system,” said David Moses, WSU general counsel, in a statement. “It makes claims that are without merit, and we welcome the opportunity to set the record straight."

Bardo has not yet responded to requests for comment.

But in a previous interview with The Eagle, Bardo said he doesn’t recall the details of what happened during those four days in April 2013.

“But, generally speaking, if any information like that had come to me, what I normally do, I would have contacted UPD (University Police Department) and not (Robinson).” It is the campus police who determine whether there is a situation of safety and “timely notice” to students, Bardo said.

Kelsey Ryan: 316-269-6752, @kelsey_ryan