Jim Bartko: ‘I did not leave Fresno State by choice’

Former Bulldogs’ AD Jim Bartko. Courtesy of Fresno State News

Former Fresno State Director of Athletics Jim Bartko issued a statement to the media Wednesday, revealing details of his sudden exit from the university.  

In the letter, Barko brings to light details of his departure from Fresno State in what he says was a “forced exit.” Bartko also cited his exit as “unlawful” and said he filed an administrative claim to preserve his right to file a lawsuit.

Bartko also said he hoped to have received “more support and compassion” from his employer when he decided to go public with his story as a victim of sexual abuse.

Here is Bartko’s full statement:

I am releasing this statement to respond to recent press inquiries and to publicly thank all of you who have reached out to me and offered support since my sudden departure as Fresno State’s Athletic Director last November.

I have been asked by the press if I filed a claim concerning my employment at Fresno State. The answer is yes. Despite what the public has been told by Fresno State, and despite cruel rumors spread about me personally and professionally both before and after my departure, I did not leave Fresno State by choice or for “personal reasons.” Given the facts about how I was treated over the last 10 months of my employment, I believe Fresno State’s actions against me and the handling of my forced exit were unlawful. I filed an administrative claim in order to preserve my right to file a lawsuit. At this time, I will not comment further on this matter.

I have also been asked if I would change certain decisions I made in my life, and in particular my decision to be open about being a survivor of sexual abuse. The answer is no. I do not regret telling my story. I wish I had been given more support and compassion from my employer, including a more appropriately-handled departure. But, I have learned over the course of my nearly 30-year career that things don’t always happen according to plan. One of my favorite quotes from Joseph Campbell says it best, “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” I am looking forward to the life that is waiting for me.

I will continue to share my story as a survivor and to help other survivors in any way I can. One of the keys to my success thus far has been living my truth. I strive every day to be a man of integrity and honor, and I choose to live in the light and to be transparent with respect to my experience and recovery from the trauma inflicted in my youth. If you know someone going through what I went through, it means the world to have others reach out and offer support and compassion. I have learned that there is much help and hope for those who experience PTSD and anxiety illnesses.

I am eternally grateful to all of you who have stood by me and raised me up with unconditional support through what has amounted to a very challenging time. You will forever have a place in my heart.

Fresno State responded with a statement of its own from Vice President Deborah S. Adishian-Astone: “Mr. Jim Bartko, former director of athletics, voluntarily resigned from Fresno State on November 6, 2017, and signed an agreement …”

As part of the agreement, the university paid Bartko approximately $75,000 in severance pay, as consideration for which he accepted, according to the statement.

Bartko took over as head of the Bulldogs’ athletic department in January of 2015. In almost three years with the ‘Dogs, he developed the vision for the Bulldog Stadium modernization project, brought wrestling back to campus, added women’s water polo and hired football coach Jeff Tedford.