Former Stony Brook athletic director Jim Fiore said Wednesday that an espnW story citing numerous claims of inappropriate behavior by him at the school prior to his dismissal on Nov. 19 was "rife with falsehoods."
Fiore, in a statement released through his personal spokesman, said: "The ESPNw story by Kate Fagan is absolutely outrageous and rife with falsehoods. It is blatantly defamatory and my legal representatives have issued a cease and desist letter to ESPNw and any media outlet that has sourced or reprinted this article. The anonymous, 'kitchen sink' allegations that have been made against me are absolutely false. I cannot help but think that the motives of the unnamed 'sources' serve no purpose other than someone's obvious financial gain and to hurt me personally and professionally. I will vigorously fight these bogus claims and defend my reputation."
ESPN, in a statement, said it stands by the story.
Late Wednesday, the school released a statement, saying: "The University takes all claims of discrimination and sexual harassment seriously and reviews them timely. Some recent media accounts raise concerning allegations, but to the extent those reports do not identify the sources of those allegations or the documents relied upon, the University and the public cannot reliably assess the truthfulness or completeness of such allegations.
"It is the policy of the University not to discuss personnel matters. What we can tell you is that the University received a single complaint concerning the athletic department from one university employee. We took this complaint very seriously and acted promptly to understand and respond to the issues raised."
A spokesman for Fiore told Newsday: "Both the University and the New York State Department of Labor investigated a claim that was made in 2012 by an athletic department employee. There were no findings that resulted in disciplinary charges against Jim Fiore in either investigation."
Fiore left the school on Nov. 19 after the school bought out his contract for $800,000. The school president said in an email to the campus that: "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, Newsday reported that Fiore was essentially forced out. He had 31 months remaining on his contract.
Michael Conte, a personal spokesman for Fiore, told Newsday on Nov. 20 that "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."
The story cited documents as well as interviews with a number of current and former athletic department employees. It said that the school had received several complaints and had knowledge of misconduct for at least two years, and cited documents sent to the state of New York's Attorney General's office as well as the State Inspector General.