Fresno State

Former Fresno State AD Bartko says he was forced out and his exit was 'unlawful'

Former Fresno State Athletic Director Jim Bartko said he was forced out of his position and called his sudden departure as "unlawful."

Bartko made those comments Wednesday, seven months after his abrupt departure and nearly three years on the job.

"Despite what the public has been told by Fresno State, and despite cruel rumors spread about me personally and professionally both before and after my departure," Bartko wrote in an e-mail, " I did not leave Fresno State by choice or for 'personal reasons.' "

Bartko said he has filed an administrative claim with Fresno State to preserve his right to file a lawsuit in the future.

"Given the facts about how I was treated over the last ten months of my employment," Bartko added, "I believe Fresno State’s actions against me and the handling of my forced exit were unlawful."

In a statement released Wednesday evening from Fresno State Vice President Deborah Adishian-Astone, the university cited an agreement that Bartko signed on Nov. 6, 2017, and reiterated that the former athletic director voluntarily resigned and received severance pay of $75,000.

"He accepted, and we have confirmation that he cashed the checks," Adishian-Astone said.

Bartko previously revealed back in January 2017 that he'd been molested as a child and needed to be placed in a treatment facility.

In his e-mail Wednesday, Bartko said he does not regret telling his story about dealing with sexual abuse as a child but wished Fresno State had "given more support and compassion ... including a more appropriately-handled departure."

There also were questions whether a pending divorce at the time and "excessive drinking" were part of Bartko's "personal reasons," that Fresno State generically stated without providing details when announcing the athletic director's departure.

Bartko, hired in November 2014 by university President Joseph Castro after serving as an associated athletic director at Oregon, had grand goals at Fresno State.

Among them was a $60 million-plus renovation of Bulldog Stadium, which has since been shelved.

Bartko's biggest impact at Fresno State was the hiring of football coach Jeff Tedford, following the midseason firing of Tim DeRuyter in 2016.

"I am eternally grateful to all of you who have stood by me and raised me up with unconditional support through what has amounted to a very challenging time," Jim wrote. "You will forever have a place in my heart."

Bryant-Jon Anteola: 559-441-6362, @Banteola_TheBee
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