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Fired coach Whitcomb sues North Idaho College

Pat Whitcomb lifts Taylor Kornoely after winning the NCAA title at heavyweight (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)

Pat Whitcomb, former wrestler and long-time head wrestling coach at North Idaho College who was fired in January, has filed a lawsuit against his alma mater and employer.

Whitcomb's lawsuit claims discrimination, reputation harm, retaliation and misconduct. The former coach is seeking a jury trial, but has not asked for a monetary settlement. Last summer, Whitcomb filed a tort claim with estimated damages of between $50,000 and $100,000.

Whitcomb said he was fired on January 7 for what he believes are his efforts to upgrade facilities to accommodate double-amputee wrestler Hassan Hawthorne, 2016 Alabama 145-pound state champ, for speaking up for a co-worker who was assaulted on campus, and because school leaders want to drop wrestling -- arguably NIC's most successful varsity sport (the program was ranked fourth in the nation at the time of his firing) -- in favor of launching a baseball program.

The college claims Whitcomb was fired for academic integrity violations.

Whitcomb served as the NIC head wrestling coach from 1997 to early 2019, leading the program to four team national championships and 18 individual national championships before being let go mid-season. He was honored as National Coach of the Year twice and Region 18 Coach of the Year eight times. Prior to heading up the program, Whitcomb earned back-to-back NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) titles as a NIC wrestler in 1986 and 1987.

Founded in 1933, North Idaho College is a public, two-year community college located in Coeur d'Alene. It has a total enrollment of approximately 7,800 students.

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