The short but tumultuous tenure of Mesa Community College athletic director Jeff Fore has ended.
MCC’s Director of Institutional Advancement, Sonia Filan, said Fore, “resigned on Thursday, effective immediately.”
Filan said she didn’t know the reasons for the resignation. Phone messages and e-mails to Fore, as well as Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Sonya Pearson, were not returned on Friday afternoon.
Filan said Dr. Pearson will handle athletic department administrative duties until an interim A.D. is chosen. The search for a permanent athletic director will begin after New Year’s.
Fore was hired in April 2008, a tenure which swirled in controversy for most of those 20 months, including the present.
The latest uproar began in late June, when Fore sent out termination letters to MCC baseball coach Tony Cirelli and track coach Steve Jacobs.
A public backlash ensued in favor of Cirelli and Jacobs, who have a combined 36 years of coaching experience at MCC, and both were reinstated a couple days later.
In the process, however, Fore demanded Cirelli and Jacobs sign a document that acknowledged mistakes each made as coaches — many of which they disagreed with.
Jacobs said he signed the letter because he believed it meant keeping his job.
Cirelli, however, did not sign Fore’s document, and brought it to Dr. Pearson. Cirelli said he was told not to worry about this non-legal document. Cirelli kept the original unsigned document.
“The nice thing through this whole thing was Dr. Pearson said just coach baseball and that made it a lot easier,” Cirelli said. “I wasn’t in the loop of what was going on.”
In the fall, school administrators went through files and discovered the document with Cirelli’s alleged signature. Cirelli denied ever signing the document, and noted a couple flaws with the copy. First, Cirelli said a big loop in top of the 'C’ was cut off, making it appear to be a photocopy.
Second, Cirelli said the document is signed by “Tony,” and Cirelli said he signs all important documents with “Anthony.”
The school conducted an internal investigation. Cirelli filed a police report against Fore alleging a forged signature. Mesa Police turned the complaint over to Maricopa County Attorney’s office, but no charges are expected to be pursued.
Cirelli is 527-351 as Thunderbirds coach and will begin his 16th season in January.
“The whole sanity is I can keep going out and coaching,” Cirelli said Friday. “That was the saving grace.”