Stony Brook athletic director Jim Fiore, who widely is recognized as the chief architect of the school's burgeoning Division I athletic program and the driving force behind its markedly improved athletic facilities, was relieved of his duties early Tuesday.
It is a surprising move considering the recent expansion and success of the program.
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According to a statement released last night by Fiore through his personal media representative, the school bought out the remaining 31 months of his contract, which runs through June 30, 2016, for a total of nearly $800,000. Fiore provided no further details about his ouster.
The move was announced in an email addressed to the campus community from Samuel L. Stanley, president of the university. It 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."
The school declined Newsday's request to interview Stanley, and athletic department personnel were instructed not to address the matter. "It is university policy not to comment on personnel matters," SBU media relations officer Lauren M. Sheprow said in an email to Newsday.
By the time Fiore's ouster was announced, his biography had been deleted from the athletic department website. The transition begins with an athletic department staff meeting scheduled for this morning.
Fiore, 45, a Long Beach native who played football at Hofstra, was named Stony Brook athletic director on July 23, 2003, after previously serving as senior associate director of athletics at Princeton. In addition to supporting an increasingly successful athletic program, including a football team that won at least a share of four straight Big South titles from 2009-12 and went to the FCS playoffs in 2011-12, a basketball team that won three regular-season America East titles and earned three NIT bids in the past four years and a baseball team that reached the College World Series in 2012, Fiore also led the move in football to the more prestigious Colonial Athletic Association this season.
Under Fiore, there has been a dramatic expansion of the athletic facilities. A $21.1-million renovation of Stony Brook Arena is scheduled for completion next summer; the $4.3-million Glenn Dubin Performance Center opened in the past year, and the Joe Nathan baseball field underwent a $1-million upgrade thanks to a significant donation from the former Rangers relief pitcher.
In his statement, Fiore said: "I have had nearly 11 wonderful years at Stony Brook, and I am incredibly proud for all the experiences I have had in building the University and our emerging Division I program. Facilities have been modernized, recruiting has been professionalized and prospective student-athletes now see Stony Brook as an enviable destination and the University's brand is nationally recognized."
Fiore thanked all the "coaches, staff, student-athletes, athletic boosters, University colleagues, local community and businesses, alumni, elected officials and the broader Suffolk County community, which has made this such an incredible stop on my professional and personal journey for me and my family. I wish the University and Seawolves nation the greatest success in the future."Fiore's spokesman, Michael Conte added, "Jim is moving forward with his head held high and looking forward to bringing his experience and talents to the next level."