I had a chance to catch up with FIU athletic director Pete Garcia Friday afternoon. We touched a on number of different subjects during our chat. I posted a few notes below.
What are a few things FIU fans can look forward to this coming athletic year?
"We are very excited No. 1 with what’s happened with the foundation built by our coaches and our student athletes. Going into this year we are excited about our football program. First time we are playing six games at home. With teams like UCF and Duke coming in it should be an exciting season."
What are some of the plans to continue increasing attendance at football games?
"Attendance went up dramatically last year. We are bringing in higher quality teams. A UCF team that won the conference and an ACC team in Duke. Our student body is getting more involved in the program. ESPN networks are carrying 6 out of our first 8 games. That’s unheard of for our conference."
"It’s going to be safe to say we are going to have over 10,000 season tickets sold this year."
Any word on when the next phase of stadium construction will begin?
"We are stating to have discussions in regard about closing off the north side of the stadium," Garcia said.
Garcia was clear that the talks were just beginning and that plans should become more clear in about "six months."
Is the plan to continue using the arena and the stadium for outside events?
"The Arena is used about 95 percent of the time. A lot of it is outside events that bring in money for the athletic department. The Gold Cup is a perfect example. Those revenues also go into the athletic department.We keep increasing it every year. We could still use the stadium more. We have a number of high school games at the stadium including Belen and Columbus."
Work on the 2011-12 basketball schedule is underway. According to Garcia, the Panthers will be traveling to Maryland and Dayton next season. Dates will be announced sometime this month.
With much speculation in the national media about the future of basketball coach Isiah Thomas, I figured I'd ask Garcia about the possibility of Thomas taking a head coaching job in the association next year.
"[Thomas] is here and he’s working and recruiting. He’s very excited about his upcoming year," Garcia said.
What are some the changes coming to the basketball arena?
"New lockers. Brand new entrance with suits. Multipurpose rooms that will be used for suits on game day and other University functions when we are not playing."
How is the search for a new softball coaching coming along?
"We are doing a national search for the softball coach. We are confident we can find someone that can build on what Beth did and take the program to the next level."
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