UW-Whitewater dismisses wrestling coach who believes he was 'doing what was right'
As one former Rock River Valley wrestler is rising to the top in his field, he's trying to make sure another does not fall from grace.
Corey Anderson of Rockton, Illinois, is fresh off a light-heavyweight championship in last season's “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, and he's now busy getting set for his first official Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bout, hoping to launch what could be a lucrative and successful career in the Mixed Martial Arts upper ranks.
But his former college coach Tim Fader—a former state-placing wrestler from Rochelle—was recently fired from his position as head coach of the UW-Whitewater wrestling team, and Anderson is out to try to make sure one of the men who molded him into what he is today is not booted out of the wrestling community.
“If it wasn't for Coach Fader, I wouldn't be where I am today—flat out,” Anderson said in a telephone interview from Toms River, New Jersey, where he's training for his UFC debut. “He made an impression on me; he had a huge impact on my life. I don't know why this is happening, but we're going to keep fighting for him.”
Fresh off the team's third straight conference title and second-place finish at the Division III nationals, the best in program history, Fader and the UW-W wrestling team headed into the offseason with a full head of steam.
This upcoming season was to be the 45-year-old Fader's 11th with the team. He already had helped produce 18 scholar All-Americans and 21 wrestling All-Americans and was in negotiations for a raise after earning his third D-III coach of the year honor.
Everything changed on April 18.
That's when, Fader said, he received a phone call from the mother of a female student who had told her mom that she had been sexually assaulted by one of Fader's wrestling recruits who was on campus for a visit. The recruiting visit had ended, but the recruit stayed in town for an extra night.
Fader did what he thought was the right thing by finding the recruit, talking to him, and taking him to the Whitewater police to make sure the incident was handled by the proper authorities.
When Fader received a return call from the mother of the female student two days later, he thought it was all over. She told him that she should have never called him and that she was wrong about the incident. At that point, Fader believed the issue was over and all involved could move on.
Two weeks later, he was told by university representatives that the incident was never reported to the school, and because it wasn't, it could cost him his job. Fader believed that since he went directly to the police instead of the school, the incident would be automatically reported through the proper channels.
“It's just always been that way: Whenever anybody did anything wrong on campus, the university was always notified by the police,” Fader said. “There was certainly no intent to cover anything up or hide anything. I acted immediately and with the best interest of the alleged victim in mind, and I still think I did the right thing.”
On May 13, Fader, also a physical education teacher at UW-W, was told that he was being suspended and that an internal investigation into the recruiting practices of the wrestling program was underway. Less than a month later, Fader was asked to resign.
“I'm still at a loss at how reporting this alleged sexual assault to the police was the wrong thing to do,” he said. “I was really confused, really disappointed. I really enjoyed my job, I enjoy UW-Whitewater. I'm really proud of my team and I love the people here.
“How this can be grounds for dismissal, I just don't know.”
UW-Whitewater Athletic Director Amy Edmonds would not answer any questions about the subject, and the school would not release documents pertaining to the investigations, insisting the case is still open.
“We certainly can't say anything about it, other than it's been tough,” Edmonds said. “We've officially ended coach Fader's tenure here. That's all I can tell you. We're hoping to continue to see the program grow in the future.”
The reason given for Fader's non-renewal, however, wasn't even connected to his failure to alert the university of the sexual-assault allegations. Even though assistant football coach John O'Grady was hired by the school this past spring with three recruiting violations—and a scandal that ended his last job—on his record, Fader was told his dismissal was the result of two minor recruiting violations uncovered during the investigation.
Neither Fader nor the university would disclose the violations, but Fader did not think they were worthy of dismissal.
“These are the kind of infractions that lots of guys have had, and they are always handled and fixed internally,” he said.
All of this unfolded, however, as the university was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education after being placed on a list of 55 institutions that were thought to have not been reporting campus crimes properly. None of the parties involved would discuss that investigation.
But Janesville Craig graduate Tom Trieloff, a UW-Whitewater wrestler under Fader from 2005-09 and now president of the UW-Whitewater alumni club, said he believes the government probe was tied to Fader's ouster.
“Coach Fader is a great coach and an even better person, and the thing he stressed more than anything in the world was that this was a family, not just a team or a school,” Trieloff said. “They threw all that out the window. This program and this school now have a black eye, and I don't think it has anything to do with Coach Fader's actions. It's all about how this has been handled.
“It wasn't the recruiting violations that they let (Fader) go for. It was the pressure they felt from the federal investigation. They made a bad decision; this could have been a learning process, a learning tool. Instead it's a black eye.”
Still, Fader is in limbo. After placing second in the state for Rochelle in 1986, he coached for nine years at UW-La Crosse before moving to Whitewater.
Now he finds himself wondering what the future holds. He wasn't even able to start looking for another job until late last month, when his departure from Whitewater became official. And with the university as well as the city police withholding any information regarding the case, continuing to call it an open investigation, Fader isn't sure what he's allowed to talk about with future employers.
However, he hasn't lost confidence.
“This is the truth; that's my story: I reported a sexual assault to the police. I believed I was doing what was right, and now I'm out of a job,” Fader said. “I remember hanging up that phone what seems like a long time ago and thinking I did the right thing.
“Now, I still believe I did the right thing, but I'm not sure what my future holds anymore.”
Anderson thinks it's still a bright future.
“I truly believe he'll bounce back, and he'll be doing great things for another program soon enough.
“He better be.”