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Going Broom on Conference USA Water Awards; A Fistful of Wasted Dollars

Capping, arguably, the best season FIU swimming and diving has had, the Panther water women swept the top two individual awards announced by Conference USA Wednesday.

Senior Sonia Perez Arau was named Swimmer of the Year after winning the conference in the 400 individual medley and being the only Conference USA swimmer to score -- and first in FIU history -- at the NCAA Championships when she finished 13th in the 400 IM.

Senior Sabrina Beaupre got the Diver of the Year award after winning both the 1-meter and the platform diving at the conference meet and missing the 3-meter title by 0.6 of a point. Beaupre will continue to dive, aiming to represent Canada at the 2016 Olympics.


Remember that Jan. 8 e-mail that went out to almost every member of the South Florida media attempting to "introduce" us to FIU's "new" football coach, Ron Turner?

We haven't heard from that company, JTS communications, for a while. JTS Communications' president and CEO is Juan Thomas Sanchez. According to his JTS bio page, before starting JTS, Sanchez was a senior partner at The Jeffrey Group, which boasts that it’s “the leading independent marketing and corporate communications agency helping companies inform, engage, motivate and persuade audiences in Latin America.”

Apparently unsure of their geography, the athletic department hired The Jeffrey Group after being down two employees in the media relations department. Yes, they did this instead of filling the two positions with people for whom they'd have to pay salaries and provide benefits. Doing that would allow the media relations department to function like a normal media relations department instead of scurrying about, dealing with faulty equipment and strange administrative whims while being too understaffed and overworked.

Instead of hiring someone for $40,000 to $45,000 a year, FIU decided to pay this company $5,500 a month for six months ($33,000 for six months, mind you) starting in December. According to the agreement, the company would head up a "proactive communication effort" that includes helping with an "enhanced media presence," "athlete promotion" and "digital outreach." Oh, they had a whole plan.

Alas, after that e-mail, their plans went the way of some other grand ideas.


What I didn’t see among the correspondence I requested in a public records search was the dissolving of the relationship between FIU and The Jeffrey Group. One hire was made in media relations, leaving them still one short. If the school cut ties right after the infamous e-mail (and nothing has been heard from JTS or The Jeffrey Group since that e-mail), that would’ve been at two months. So, FIU spent at least $11,000 for one moment of embarrassment.

You can go to Vegas, get a high roller room at MGM Grand, pound mojitos with a hustling working girl until you forget your Cialis and your $11K embarrassing moment will have done more for you than the athletic department’s did FIU.

Maybe they just should’ve filled both jobs in the media relations department.



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ooohh Yeaahh! what you gonna do when FIU swimming goes wild on u!

Just keep swimming.

Just keep swimming.

Just keep swimming.

"Whether you like or you dont like it, DJN, you better learn to love it"...woooooooo - PG Flair...

Is anyone really surprised how the whole PR firm mess turned out? Just another brilliant move by Pedro Garcia the FIU entertainment director.

I participated in the "Ask Rosenberg" Twitter Q&A earlier this week and asked el presidente, how in the hell does Pedro Garcia still have a job? Of course Rosenberg having no testicular fortitude did not answer my question.

The FIU athletic department is NOT "Worlds Ahead" Mark and won't be until you exterminate the Hialeah rat running your athletic department.

How exactly did the PR firm mess turn out? Isn't that news like 5 months old already? Way to be late to the party.

And if I remember correctly, the mistake was the PR company's fault and their services were terminated. What's the issue?

The issue is that they should have done it right in the first place. That's a little too much to ask of anything that Pete Garcia does.

What's the issue? Instead of doing the right thing, FIU tried to half-step, wound up embarrassing itself and blowing at least $11,000. Hey, the FIU athletic department is so flush, that's no big deal, right? It's not like any teams are on the Internet, begging for money like The Homeless Voice guys.

And, while I requested everything having to do with the PR firm's usage two days after the e-mail came out, I didn't get my hands on the actual proposals and contracts until March. You kind of want, you know, actual facts if you're going to write something like this.

A few things. One, you claim not to have an axe to grind, then you write the last paragraph of the post above. There's a difference between reporting and a cheap shot. Vegas, Hookers and Cialis? Really? I read a ton of different Herald blogs and I've never read anyone take as many digs at who they cover then you do. The Dolphins have given everyone as many reasons to complain as any other team in this market, yet I don't see anyone taking the kind of shots at them as you do with FIU. The Marlins are a debacle, with an all-too-involved owner and a Napoleon complexed President, yet I don't see Clark Spencer & Manny Navarro taking pot shots in their writings. Again, just this man's opinion.

Second, I know that job postings at FIU often times have to be open for quite a while before they're finally filled. I believe there are either state rules or FIU's HR rules on length of time a position is open. You're also not just going to hire whoever applies. You might actually want to wait and see if a quality candidate applies and accepts the position. Why not find out when the positions were posted/filled for the two open spots? Is it not possible that the jobs were open and during the period of waiting to be filled, FIU chose to fill that gap with an outside firm that could be hired right away? Seems that's a better strategy then leaving the remaining media relations staff to cover the additional work being down two employees, while waiting the mandated time to hire someone.

Also, regarding the $5,500 a month? That's not outlandish. You're replacing two staff members. Their combined monthly salary, assuming they're both making $35,000 a year is $5,833. The agency, presumably, also brings a team. If it's like where I work, you have an account rep, and a team of designers, media buyers, etc. Therefore, you could use the agency to alleviate most of the work being handled by the two vacant positions (office related work, not game day stuff).

FIU would have already budgeted that money for the salaries of the employees who had just left. So, instead of sitting on the money and telling Media Relations to make due, they decided to spend it on an agency to help out, while Media Relations makes the proper hire instead of just grabbing anyone off the street...qualified or not. You can argue that the hired the wrong company, and that'd be a fair argument. But I have no issues with spending money they're already budgeted, on hiring a media agency to assist the team while they're down two employees. Maybe be more proactive and get the team/Turner/etc. out into the community more then they had been.

People bitch when they don't do something, and bitch when they do do something. Maybe it's best FIU isn't covered all together. Fly under the radar and build themselves from a grass roots level. It certainly wouldn't be any worse then writers taking shots at every possible moment.

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