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Fresno State Athletic Director Jim Bartko in his office at the Duncan Building on Jan. 26, 2017. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Former athletic director claims he was forced out last fall, Fresno State disagrees

Former Bulldogs Athletic Director Jim Bartko revealed on Wednesday he has filed a legal claim against the university because of what he characterized as “unlawful actions” against him in the last 10 months of his time at Fresno State and in the handling of his “forced exit.”

In a statement obtained by The Collegian, Bartko said he “did not leave Fresno State by choice or for ‘personal reasons,’” last November. He also expressed his right to file a lawsuit against the university.

Bartko added there were “cruel rumors spread about” him personally and professionally during and after his departure from campus, which was abuzz with speculation about why he resigned as athletic director. The university never disclosed reasons for Bartko’s departure after Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro released him.

Fresno State officials appeared to disagree with Bartko, released the following statement Wednesday on behalf of Vice President Deborah S. Adishian-Astone:

“Mr. Jim Bartko, former director of athletics, voluntarily resigned from Fresno State on November 6, 2017, and signed an agreement that stipulates as such. This agreement provided severance pay to Mr. Bartko totaling approximately $75,000 as consideration for which he accepted, and we have confirmation that he cashed the checks. No further comment will be made at this time.”

Bartko’s departure came months after Bartko opened up about sexual abuse as a child. Bartko said he did not regret telling his story of being a survivor of the childhood abuse.

“I wish I had been given more support and compassion from my employer, including a more appropriately handled departure,” Bartko said in the statement.

He added he plans to “continue sharing my story as a survivor and to help other survivors in any way I can.”