Fired North Idaho College wrestling coach files tort claim against school

Pat Whitcomb lifts Taylor Kornoely after winning the NCAA title at heavyweight (Photo/Mark Lundy,

Pat Whitcomb, head wrestling coach at North Idaho College who was fired in the middle of last season after more than two decades at the helm, has filed a tort claim with intent to sue his alma mater and former employer for damages.

A tort is a filing that alleges civil wrongdoing that caused loss or harm from an action. Torts allow the opportunity for cases to be settled out of court before a suit is filed.

Whitcomb accuses the college of discrimination, reputational damage, retaliation and misconduct, with an estimate of damages to the former NIC wrestler/coach to be between $50,000 and $100,000 to date.

"During the past several years, NIC has suffered through a series of allegations of wrongful, corrupt and unlawful conduct," the tort claim states. "Pat Whitcomb, previously employed as a wrestling coach for NIC, attempted to prevent such misconduct where he could, and to bring to light the misconduct he could not prevent.

"As a result, he has suffered extensive retaliation, ultimately ending in the loss of his employment, interference with his business relationships and other harms and damages."

As InterMat reported on Jan. 25, 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.

Whitcomb's attorney, James Piotrowski, also filed a complaint similar to the NIC tort claim to the Idaho Human Rights Commission.

When asked about the tort claim, Laura Rumpler, NIC's chief communications and government relations officer, told the Coeur d'Alene Press, "It is the responsibility of NIC's leadership to make the difficult decisions to ensure employees who serve our students operate with integrity and align with the college's values of student success and academic excellence."

"While I (or the college) cannot comment specifically on the possibility of pending litigation, NIC denies any wrongful conduct and is confident that any judicial process will afford clarity and bring the truth and facts to light," according to Rumpler.

In the 22 years since Whitcomb was hired as head wrestling coach, NIC could claim 18 individual national champions and 108 All-Americans. He was honored as National Coach of the Year twice and Region 18 Coach of the Year eight times.

Whitcomb is a member of the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Wrestling Hall of Fame and NIC Hall of Fame.

Two weeks ago, North Idaho announced it had hired Michael Sebaaly as its head wrestling coach.

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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