COEUR D’ALENE — A former North Idaho College head wrestling coach has filed a lawsuit against the school in federal court after he was fired.

Pat Whitcomb’s lawsuit claims discrimination, reputation harm, retaliation and misconduct, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported.

Whitcomb ran the wrestling program from 1997 to 2019 and was fired in January. He led the wrestling program to four team national championships and 18 individual national championships.

Whitcomb said in the lawsuit he was targeted after advocating for handicapped-accessible facilities for student-athletes, primarily disabled wrestlers.

The college claims he was fired for academic integrity violations, but Whitcomb believes he was fired for speaking out over possible rights and security violations against students and college employees.

“Once NIC had concluded that making the wrestling program accessible would be too expensive, the institute expected coach Whitcomb to stop discussing the matter,” said Whitcomb’s attorney, James Piotrowski.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial, but does not specify a monetary amount, Whitcomb said. A tort claim filed as a precursor to the lawsuit last year estimated damages of $50,000 to $100,000.

The Coeur d’Alene college denies wrongdoing and is responsible for ensuring that the college’s values aren’t compromised, college spokeswoman Laura Rumpler said.

“While I (or the college) cannot comment specifically on 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,” Rumpler said.

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