Former Athletic Director gets $1.8 million in settlement against Kean

By Mak Ojutiku

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Kean University has agreed to pay $1.8 million to former athletic director Glenn Hedden to settle a whistle-blowing lawsuit that charged he was fired for reporting to the NCAA that the university gave special treatment to some of its athletes.

Hedden’s attorney, David Corrigan, said the settlement was made in June and that Kean did not admit to any guilt or wrongdoing.

“We have agreed to the $1.8 million, to waive all our claims against Kean University,” said Corrigan.

Hedden sued the school for wrongful termination after he was fired in May 2011. His termination came five months after he reported numerous violations by the school’s athletic department, and a week after NCAA representatives investigated the allegations.

Hedden’s lawsuit was filed in state Superior Court under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, also known as the Whistle-Blower Act. The act protects employees who report violations committed by their employers.

Among the charges, Hedden charged that Kean and Michele Sharp, then the head coach of the women’s basketball team, created and approved a TravelLearn class in Spain, so players on Sharp’s team could meet their academic eligibility requirements. Hedden also accused the former acting vice president for academic affairs, of changing the grade of a student on the women’s basketball team from an ”F” to an “incomplete,” without approval from the professor of the class.

After investigating, the NCAA imposed a postseason ban on the women’s basketball team for 2013 and placed all of Kean’s athletic teams on probation until 2016.

Asked to comment on the settlement, Marsha McCarthy, university spokeswoman, issued this statement:

“Kean University reaffirms that its actions were valid and appropriate, however, in the best interests of the University and our students, we made a business decision to settle this matter, which bought three years of litigation to a prompt and certain resolution. The action allows the University to continue to move forward and focus on the priorities that make Kean a vibrant world-class institution.”

Separately, Kean removed Sharp as the coach of the women’s basketball team during the 2012 season and reassigned her as an overseer for the East Campus weight room. In June, Sharp filed a lawsuit against Kean, claiming the school was making her a scapegoat and that her demotion constituted as discrimination.

“I am pleased with the terms of the settlement,” said Corrigan. “My only regret is that Hedden was terminated when he was doing a good job and that so much money was spent on legal fees in this case.”

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