Don’t worry, not at Stony Brook. But Jim Fiore’s name has been floated as a finalist for the Athletics Director position at UMass. Gather ye horcruxes, Minutemen.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported last week that Fiore was one of four finalists for the position, along with athletics officials from Buffalo and Georgia State. It would be a huge coup for Fiore even without the dirty laundry: jumping from the America East to an FBS football program and A-10 basketball powerhouse that was ranked #13 as recently as the 2013-2014 season.
Program boosters, alumni, and students alike have not reacted favorably to the news.
A group of four students and coaches from the UMass chapter of GO! Athletes, a national organization of LGBTQ collegiate athletes, have written an open letter to Vice Chair John Kennedy, who is heading up the search committee for the Minutemen. In it, they beseech the university to drop Fiore from the list of finalists:
The University of Massachusetts chapter of GO! Athletes, the national organization of LGBTQ collegiate student-athletes, finds the consideration of Jim Fiore as Athletic Director unacceptable.
The search committee’s consideration of Fiore as a candidate for Athletic Director directly contradicts the University of Massachusetts’ efforts to cultivate an LGBTQ-friendly environment for all students, including an increasing number of student athletes.
It is critical that UMass Athletics continues its work to affirm the integrity and standards of our University’s commitment to all LGBT students, coaches, and faculty. As such, we call on the committee chair, the committee, interim AD Robert M. Goodhue, Chancellor Subbaswamy, and the AD search committee to immediately dismiss Jim Fiore as a candidate for UMass Athletic Director, including assuring that he is not invited to campus as a finalist for the position.
The letter is in response to an ESPNW report from the fall of 2013 that detailed allegations made by several sources inside the Athletics Department who said that Fiore would approach athletes and coaches and ask them about their sexual orientation. That report came a week after we first broke the story about Fiore’s departure from Stony Brook for allegedly harassing female subordinates within the Athletics Department.
That Fiore has even made it this far in the hiring process is a testament to the success he had at turning the Seawolves from a mid-major also-ran to a perennial contender for conference championships in football and basketball as well as a handful of other sports.
Look, I’m all about second chances, and I don’t subscribe to the notion that people are incapable of making a big change in their own lives. Who knows, maybe Fiore has indeed learned a valuable lesson or two in the year and a half since he was fired. But I’m not optimistic, and here’s why: In all this time, there has been no apology issued, no public remorse or even a hint of regret shown. To this day, he denies any wrongdoing whatsoever. Say what you will about Stony Brook and some of their bananas administrative decision-making, you don’t buy someone as successful as Jim Fiore out of an expensive contract unless you have a really good reason to want him gone. You don’t have to believe every allegation laid out by us or ESPN or anyone else, but don’t believe for a second that he is innocent. And UMass should be really, really careful about getting into bed with someone like that.