Cimaglia exits as DIAA head two months into job

DOVER — Less than two months after taking over as the DIAA’s new executive director, Gary Cimaglia is stepping down from the position.
Cimaglia notified the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association board of directors of his decision earlier this week.

The 46-year-old Clayton resident also sent out a message to the state’s athletic directors on Wednesday afternoon.

Gary Cimaglia

Cimaglia said in the message that he’d been offered an unspecified opportunity that was too good for he and his family to pass up.

Cimaglia was unavailable for comment on Wednesday. He had previously worked with Special Olympics.

His last day with the DIAA will be Nov. 1.

“This comes as a complete surprise,” said Caesar Rodney superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald, who is a member of the DIAA board. “Gary was doing a fine job in the position and was learning the position.”

A special meeting of the DIAA board will be held on Oct. 29. Donna Polk, who was hired last year as coordinator of interscholastic athletics, will handle the position until a permanent replacement is found.

The most immediate impact of Cimaglia’s departure is that it comes just as the DIAA’s state tournaments for the fall season are about to begin. While each tourney is run by a separate committee made up of volunteers, the executive director often plays a key role in the running of them.

“Certainly there’s a lot that goes into being the DIAA executive director that most people don’t realize,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s tournament time and that really is when it becomes hectic. Really the heat gets turned up.

“Fortunately, the committees that are in place do a great job. We know that the committee chairs are going to take over and will continue to do what’s needed to make sure that the tournaments run smoothly. But there’s nothing like having someone in charge making some decisions.”

Cimaglia replaced Tommie Neubauer, who stepped down as executive director over the summer. His first official day was on Sept. 3.

He was only the eighth person to hold the job since the organization was formed in 1945. The DIAA is part of the state Department of Education, which handles the hiring process.

It was Special Olympics that first brought Cimaglia to Delaware in 2005. He’s been the senior director of sports for Special Olympics Delaware since 2005 and Special Olympics USA management team director since 2001.

“I look forward to the opportunity and to the challenge,” Cimaglia said when his hiring was announced in July. “It’s a great foundation. I’m excited about it.”

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