FIU notebook

FIU struggles to keep attendance above required number

 
 
FIU Panthers kicker Austin Taylor attempts a 52-yard field goal in the first quarter of the team's game against the East Carolina Pirates at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium in Miami on Nov. 2, 2013.
FIU Panthers kicker Austin Taylor attempts a 52-yard field goal in the first quarter of the team's game against the East Carolina Pirates at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium in Miami on Nov. 2, 2013.
C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff

dneal@MiamiHerald.com

FIU tripled up on promotions Saturday night — free tickets for military, discounts for FIU employees and 20 giveaways for attending students — in an effort to boost attendance.

And perhaps keep themselves off a decade long probationary period for staying FBS/Division I-A.

No more than an estimated 1,500 fans, boosted by a surprisingly large bloc of East Carolina fans, made it into FIU Stadium Saturday. There were only a few hundred in the stadium at kickoff. The announced attendance was 16,961.

The 2013-14 NCAA Manual says a requirement for FBS teams is an average of 15,000 paid or actual attendance over a rolling two-year period. According to the NCAA, FIU averaged 13,634 in 2012.

The average announced attendance — which isn’t necessarily the attendance FIU will report to the NCAA — going into Saturday’s game was 14,966 with two home games remaining. According to FIU’s response to a Miami Herald public records request, as of Sept. 9, 10,045 season tickets had been sold.

According to NCAA guidelines, schools that don’t reach the 15,000 minimum on attendance, “shall receive notice of such noncompliance. After receiving notice, any further noncompliance with the Football Bowl Subdivision requirements within a 10-year period shall cause the institution to be placed in restricted membership.”

If a school is placed on restricted membership, “the institution shall not be eligible for postseason football competition. At the conclusion of the one-year period, the institution shall be granted membership in its preferred subdivision, provided the institution complies with the subdivision’s criteria. If the member does not meet the criteria of any subdivision at the end of the restricted membership period, the institution may continue to be classified as a Division I member in sports other than football, provided the institution satisfies the Division I membership requirements set forth in Bylaws 20.9.3 through 20.9.7.

“A Division I member that loses Football Bowl Subdivision status must comply with the multidivision classification requirements set forth in Bylaw 20.4 to regain such status. 20.9.3 through 20.9.7. A Division I member that loses Football Bowl Subdivision status must comply with the multidivision classification requirements set forth in Bylaw 20.4 to regain such status.”

Booming start

FIU’s fluttery punting and the loss of field position therein has bothered Ron Turner since the first week. So with sophomore E.J. Hilliard replacing redshirt junior quarterback Jake Medlock as starting quarterback, Turner used Medlock as the punter Saturday night.

Medlock punted four times for a 45.0 yard average. Redshirt freshman Chris Ayers came into the game averaging 35.1 yards per punt, 10th in the conference.

Medlock’s first punt might’ve been FIU’s best of the season: a beautiful 39-yard punt that redshirt sophomore Dominique Rhymes ran under and caught at the East Carolina 5. Or, it might’ve been his 61-yarder in the fourth quarter that benefitted from a 20-yard roll to the East Carolina 2.

“He’s been punting the best in practice,” Turner said. “Obviously, with him back there, he’s a dual threat.”

• Freshman walk-on Brad Hyman-Muhammad started for FIU in place of injured senior Sam Miller at cornerback. Hyman-Muhammad was the 26th first-time starter for FIU this season, breaking the tie with 2007 for most first-time starters.

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