Just two days after a banner plane circled campus with a message to fire the school’s athletic director, FIU president Mark Rosenberg announced Pete Garcia would get a contract extension through 2018.
After that, Garcia says, he will move on.
“Leading FIU Athletics has been one of my most rewarding and exciting experiences,” Garcia said in a statement released by the school.
“However, after months of personal reflection, I believe it is important to explore new professional challenges.”
Garcia, who first became known locally as director of football operations at the University of Miami, joined FIU in 2006 after working with Butch Davis and the Cleveland Browns.
With the title ‘Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment,’ Garcia helped oversee the construction of FIU’s football stadium and renovation of its arena. Garcia also helped FIU move from the Sun Belt Conference to Conference USA.
According to Friday’s statement, Garcia — a Hialeah High and UM grad — will spend his remaining time at FIU focusing “on completing approximately $14 million in renovations and upgrades to facilities including the football and soccer stadiums, the convocation center, and completion of the softball and golf complex.”
Garcia’s current contract, one extended in 2013, expires next month.
According to FIU, its teams “have enjoyed 16 conference championships, 20 post-season appearances and more than two dozen student-athletes have garnered All-America selection.” FIU student-athletes have also, the school says, made significant strides in the classroom.
FIU says its athletes registered its highest cumulative GPA (3.1) in history last season as well as increased its Federal Graduation Rate by 19 percentage points.
FIU’s main programs such as football, men’s basketball and baseball have struggled lately, however, with Garcia’s decision to fire football coach Mario Cristobal after a pair of bowl games proving to be very unpopular among boosters and supporters. FIU also let baseball coach Turtle Thomas go after this past season.
On Wednesday, one disgruntled booster rented a banner plane and had it circle FIU’s main campus with the message: ‘FIU, Fire Pete Garcia.’
Few students appeared to see it and Rosenberg didn’t seem to heed that advice —although Garcia will be heading out eventually.
The statement added a search for a new athletic director would begin in the near future.
Garcia’s new deal has him with the Panthers through the next two athletic seasons.
“Pete has led our athletic program during a pivotal decade in its development,” Rosenberg said in the statement.
“I thank Pete for his leadership and the commitment he brought to the job.”
According to his official bio, Garcia worked at UM from from 1990 through 2000 after getting a job with the Dolphins in 1989.
Born in Havana, Garcia’s family came to Miami in 1967.