The athletic director at St. Peter’s College sent basketbal
WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (AP) _ The athletic director at St. Peter’s College sent basketball coach Ted Fiore a new three-year contract to examine and sign just three days before firing him.
Fiore, who three months ago led the Peacocks (19-11) to their second NCAA tournament appearance in five years, said he was handed the termination letter as he walked into Bill Stein’s office to hand him a signed new contract.
``I am baffled and perplexed by the events of yesterday and I do not fully comprehend what happened or the reasons for it,″ Fiore said Friday at his attorney’s office in discussing his dismissal 24 hours earlier.
The college said Fiore was dismissed because he was ``a very unhappy employee.″
Fiore, 51, said he was given no reason for being fired after nine years as head coach, noting the college used a ``without cause″ clause in his contract to terminate him. He was an assistant coach for six years before becoming head coach.
College spokesman Jim Morgan stressed the termination was not the result of impropriety.
``Ted was let go because he was a very unhappy employee,″ Morgan said in a telephone interview from his office at the Jersey City college. ``It was to such an extent that the administration decided a change in the position was needed.
``This was a situation that existed for a while, but over the last few months, the last few weeks, the situation reached such an extent that a change was needed,″ said Morgan, noting there was no single incident that ``broke the camel’s back.″
Fiore met with Friar Daniel Degnan, the outgoing president at St. Peter’s, on Friday morning to discuss the termination. Fiore said he was told the decision was final.
``Of course I’m hurt,″ Fiore said. ``I’m emotionally hurt. I feel I’ve been wronged. As I reiterated, I did nothing to warrant this action. Nothing substantial has been said to me to warrant this action.″
Fiore finished the fourth year of a five-year contract this season, but he said he negotiated a new three-year contract in the last few weeks. The college sent him a copy of the new contract Monday. Fiore said he telephoned Stein on Thursday morning to say he was returning a signed contract later that day.
``I’m glad you made the decision and that you’ll be back with us,″ Fiore quoted Stein as saying after he told him about the contract.
Fiore said Stein even agreed there were a couple of typographical errors in the contract and told Fiore to correct them.
Stein was not in his office when Fiore arrived, so the coach went out to lunch with his assistants. After eating, Fiore said he returned to Stein’s office and was handed a letter informing him of his termination.
``I don’t know what happened between 9:30 and 2:30,″ said Fiore, who led the Peacocks to a 151-110 record, but only 31-52 the past three seasons.
Fiore, whose victory total is the second-highest in school history, met with his players Friday morning and said they were devastated. He said in a perfect world he would somehow get his job back, but that he realized there was little chance of that.
``I love coaching and I love the game of basketball,″ said Fiore, who was wooed for the vacant coach position at Florida Atlantic this spring. ``I plan to continue to coach and achieve the kind of success that I enjoyed at St. Peter’s College.″
Fiore, who also led the Peacocks to two NIT appearances, boasted that all of his recruits who completed their eligibility graduated.
Morgan said St. Peter’s would meet its financial obligation to Fiore.
Brian J. Molloy, Fiore’s attorney, said there might be a discrepancy over how much money Fiore was owed. He maintained the school was obliged to pay Fiore for three years because he signed the new contract.