Florida International U

Instead of a new athletic director, FIU decides to go for more Pete Garcia

FIU athletic director Pete Garcia introducing Jeremy Ballard as the school’s new men’s basketball coach.
FIU athletic director Pete Garcia introducing Jeremy Ballard as the school’s new men’s basketball coach.

The original plan for FIU athletic department leadership, as stated by athletic director Pete Garcia two years ago, was his retirement this summer. The 2017 football season changed all of that.

FIU announced a three-year contract extension for Garcia on Wednesday.

What changed in the interim, most obviously, was the success of FIU’s highest-profile program. Sure, the tennis team won its first Conference USA title in 2017-2018 and the men’s soccer team finished the 2017 regular season as one of the two unbeaten teams in the nation. FIU’s best athletic and academic program during the last six years, women’s swimming and diving, churned to its fourth consecutive CUSA title.

But none of that dictates an athletic director’s future. A month after Garcia-hired Butch Davis coached FIU to a bowl game in Davis’ first season at FIU, Davis himself said the school and Garcia were working on an extension. Garcia’s salary wasn’t listed in the extension. According to Florida Has a Right to Know, his base salary was $424,080.

Garcia’s been FIU’s executive director of sports and entertainment since 2006. He has overseen the building of FIU’s football stadium, the addition of sand volleyball; hired Mario Cristobal, who coached FIU football to bowl games in 2010 and 2011; and hired swimming and diving coach Randy Horner and kept him after Horner built FIU from barely Division I level to mid-major power.

He has also survived numerous controversies, including the 2012 firing of Cristobal, now the University of Oregon head coach; the hiring and firing of men’s basketball coach Isaiah Thomas and subsequent NCAA penalties for academic shortcomings; and women’s basketball coach Marlin Chinn attempt at romancing his team captain during the 2015-16 school year.

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