Fired AD had complaints against him
Numerous claims of inappropriate behavior were brought against former Stony Brook athletic director Jim Fiore prior to his dismissal by the school on Nov. 19, sources have told espnW.
Fiore is accused of discriminating against employees based on gender, age and sexual orientation, according to sources close to and within the athletic department, as well as several documents.
Stony Brook's Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action received several complaints about Fiore and had knowledge of his misconduct for at least two years but failed to act, according to sources close to and within the athletic department, as well as several documents.
Among the complaints leveled against Fiore are sexual harassment and retaliation, misappropriation of university resources, and that he interrogated people about their sexuality. According to the documents, which have been received by the Attorney General of New York and the State Inspector General (Stony Brook is part of the State University of New York system), Fiore asked female coaches directly if they were homosexual. Sources also said Fiore asked female student-athletes about their sexual orientation and behaved inappropriately with them.
The environment within the athletic department was hostile, toxic even.Source within Stony Brook athletic department
"The environment within the athletic department was hostile, toxic even," said one source within the athletic department.
When contacted by espnW about the allegations, Fiore's personal spokesman, Michael Conte, said he had "nothing to provide." Conte spoke with Newsday on Nov. 20, saying, "The letter Jim received informing him of the termination of his contract specified no disciplinary action. It would be counterintuitive to conclude the university would buy out his contract to the sum of nearly $800,000 if Jim was facing disciplinary charges."
A member of the Stony Brook media relations department turned down espnW's request for an interview with Donna Woodruff, the school's interim director of athletics, and cited the university's policy not to comment on personnel matters.
Stony Brook president Samuel L. Stanley sent a brief email to the campus community on Nov. 19. The statement, which was also posted on the school's main website, read: "I am writing to inform you that Jim Fiore is leaving Stony Brook University. Senior Associate Athletic Director Donna Woodruff will serve as the Interim Athletic Director as we commence a national search to identify a new Athletic Director."
Within hours of Stanley's email, Newsday reported that Fiore was essentially forced out. The 45-year-old athletic director had 31 months remaining on his contract, worth a total of approximately $800,000, and Stony Brook agreed to pay the full amount left on his deal.
Sources told espnW there was no negotiation with Fiore over his departure. Newsday reported he was called to a meeting with the school's head of human resources, given a lump sum payment and told to leave. One source told espnW the university confiscated Fiore's work cell phone at that time.
Immediately after Stanley released the news of Fiore's departure, Woodruff sent a follow-up email, obtained by espnW, asking members of the athletic department to "not answer any phone calls or communicate via social media in any way on this topic." Woodruff also asked staff to "not entertain any external inquiries at this time."
The documents obtained by espnW allege, as do several sources, that the Stony Brook administration had knowledge of the multiple complaints against Fiore and failed to act swiftly. Two sources said that Woodruff and Matt Larsen, the school's senior associate director of athletics, had previously asked Fiore to resign. Fiore refused.
Fiore was widely considered a rising star in college athletics. During his 10-year tenure as AD, he was the architect of Stony Brook's emergence as a competitive Division I program, shepherding an expansion of athletic facilities and overseeing the recent success of the school's most visible programs. The football team, which went to the FCS playoffs in 2011 and 2012, recently moved from the Big South to the more competitive Colonial Athletic Association. The men's basketball team, a member of the America East Conference, earned three NIT bids in the past four seasons. And the Seawolves stunned baseball powerhouse LSU to reach the 2012 College World Series. In addition, Fiore launched the $21.1 million renovation of Stony Brook Arena, scheduled for completion next summer, and oversaw the opening of the $4.3 million Glenn Dubin Performance Center.
"He's a bully," said one source who worked within Fiore's athletic department. "Once you cross him, you're done. There is no gray area with him. And when you're making that kind of money for the university, it's like you're a god. He seemed to believe he was untouchable."
Fiore routinely sent inappropriate text messages from his university phone to female staff members and student-athletes, sources said.
Multiple sources confirmed that Fiore would make casual threats, reminding female student-athletes that he could take away their scholarships if he wanted. He also allegedly touched female student-athletes in inappropriate ways, such as massaging their shoulders and, in one instance, rubbing the inner thigh of an athlete who was rehabilitating a leg injury, according to sources.
"The way he carried himself around female athletes made us very uncomfortable," said one former student-athlete at Stony Brook. "If we saw him in the hallway, we would turn the other way or hide in the bathroom. What made it difficult was that he was the athletic director, so you couldn't say, 'Back off.'"
Another source said that Fiore seemed to target younger staff members: "He thrived on these types of power plays."
Numerous women who have worked within the Stony Brook athletic department said they often walked a circuitous route to their offices to avoid passing the suite where Fiore's office was located.
Sources close to the athletic department said that senior staff members, including Woodruff and Larsen, were afraid of Fiore. "In this field, you're not going to get another job if you say something isn't right," one source said. "That drove a lot of people to silence."
According to one document, which was not ruled upon, Stony Brook failed to interview key female coaches, staff and administrators when conducting its internal investigation into Fiore's alleged misconduct.
The same document also accuses Fiore of holding practices for his son's CYO basketball team on campus without compensating the school. University policy requires organizations to pay a fee. An email exchange between Fiore and staffers is included in the document, in which Fiore tells them the youth team will be practicing on campus.
In May, Fiore was one of about 10 candidates interviewed by Rutgers for the school's athletic director position. Rutgers was looking for an AD to replace Tim Pernetti, who resigned in the wake of the scandal involving Mike Rice, the men's basketball coach. Rice was fired after videos surfaced of him hurling basketballs and homophobic slurs at players. According to two sources, Rutgers dropped Fiore as a candidate after the school was notified by sources outside of the search process of the allegations against him at Stony Brook.
Sources said Fiore also made inquiries into the AD job at Princeton, where he served as senior associate director of athletics from 1999 to 2003. Longtime Princeton AD Gary Walters announced a few months ago that he is stepping down next June. Princeton officials were made aware of the claims against Fiore at Stony Brook, also by sources outside of the search process, after Fiore expressed interest in Princeton's open athletic director position.
Fiore was named Stony Brook athletic director on July 23, 2003. He is a native of Long Beach, N.Y., and attended Hofstra, where he played free safety for the football team from 1988-90. Prior to working at Princeton, he held administrative positions at Fordham and Dartmouth.