The surprise firing on Tuesday of Jim Fiore as Stony Brook athletic director was the result of a decision by Samuel L. Stanley, the university president, and did not involve any disciplinary action, a spokesman for Fiore told Newsday Wednesday.
"This was not a mutual decision," said Michael Conte, who is Fiore's personal public relations representative.
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According to Conte, Fiore was summoned to meet with the vice president of human resource services at 5 p.m. Tuesday. He was handed a letter that formalized the termination in the form of a buyout of the remaining 31 months of his contract for nearly $800,000.
No specific reason for the decision was given to Fiore, and there was no communication from Stanley. No negotiations were involved in the buyout, which will be paid as a lump sum, because the university was acting under SUNY Board of Trustees Policy Article XI, Title D, Section 6 (g) (1), which states, in part:
"Except in cases of discipline or retrenchment, in the event the University elects to terminate a term appointment before the expiration of the term, the University shall compensate the individual up to the maximum of the time remaining on the term appointment."
"The policy speaks for itself," SBU media relations officer Lauren M. Sheprow said in an email to Newsday. Sheprow declined requests to interview Stanley and interim athletic director Donna Woodruff.
Pressed on the question of disciplinary action, Conte said, "The letter that 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."
Fiore received an outpouring of support from members of the SBU and local community Wednesday.
"He is incredibly thankful for the emails, phone calls, tweets and other gestures that have acknowledged his lasting influence on the university's athletic program," Conte said.
One such message came from Carson Puriefoy II, father of Seawolves sophomore basketball player Carson Puriefoy III. It read: "Extremely saddened and disappointed about Jim Fiore. He was always fantastic to my son and our family. Outstanding AD who put SBU on the map."
In the meantime, Woodruff on Wednesday issued a statement saying, "Today, I met with the entire Stony Brook University Athletics staff and reaffirmed what an exceptional job everyone is doing; that our student-athletes, coaches and staff have the full support of President Stanley and Stony Brook University as a whole."