July 24, 2015

FIU says "Wasn't me."

At 8:44 p.m. Friday night, a Tweet from the FIU Athletics account said the Heat wouldn't win (spit), disparaged Dwyane Wade and said Justise Winslow was no LeBron James.

At 8:52 p.m., I got a call from an FIU spokesman to say the account likely had been hacked and FIU held no such opinion of the Heat or any local team. FIU got that out on their account swiftly.

I'll bet on a hack. While South Florida's average syntax and grammar might put more dents in English than South Florida drivers put in a taxicab, the Tweet read too undereducated to come from anybody I've met in Athletics. 

CUSA's Leaving & Staying

Most league commissioners on the way out get judged by a deriviative of the Ronald Reagan 1980 Presidential campaign debate line: is your league better off now than it was when you took over?

By that standard, Conference USA commish Britt Banowsky, whose departure for the College Football Playoff Foundation was announced last week, failed over his 13 years as CUSA leader. There's no question stronger athletic programs with larger followings (Louisville, Memphis, Cincinnati, TCU, East Carolina, etc.) comprised the 2002 or 2003 versions of Conference USA as compared to the current model.

That's not the proper gauge of Banowsky, however. He's been a success because Conference USA still exists.

Conference realignment nearly ripped apart the league in 2005. When Virginia Tech and the college in Coral Gables moved from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference with Boston College right behind, the Big East rolled up on Conference USA like the IRS in a mood -- the Big East took five schools. Charlotte and Saint Louis, without football, headed for the Atlantic 10. TCU went to the Mountain West.

When I asked Banowsky about his most difficult period in office, he said, "We had Realignment I, which was new to everybody. We were all kind of waiting on the ACC to see what they were going to do and the Big East was waiting on the ACC. We were waiting on the Big East.

"People were new at the game of realignment. That was a little bit challenging because folks didn't know how to behave. Go back and read some of the stuff that went on at that time, it was obvious people didn't know how to behave,"  I was really proud of the way our group handled it. They kind of clung to some principles that were good values -- like honesty, openness and following the rules and respect. We fortunately got through that window."

Banowsky guided CUSA through a restocking that he had to repeat in 2012 as another realignment frenzy hit college sports. That's when the conference imported a big chunk of the Sun Belt to keep its personality of schools in or near major markets (for the most part). 

"The second round of realignment, we were better prepared to understand how it went," Banowsky said. "These universities are aspiring universities. Everyone wants to be the best they can possibly be. You want that. So, if they can find their way into a better situation -- if a school in South Florida can find their way into the ACC, you would want to see that opportunity realized. But it needs to happen in the right way.

"But the most interesting and challenging thing I worked on during my time was the management of post-Katrina with Tulane. The way our universities rallied around that and for Tulane, keeping that football program alive during a period the university was shut down and keeping all their sports programs alive."

One sports program nobody could keep alive then nobody could keep dead sits in Birmingham. Both Banowsky and UAB coach Bill Clark tried to find the silver linings in the Alabama Board of Trustees killing the program after refusing to let it prosper, then the public-fueled resurrection now set for the 2017 season.

The revival did save the conference the hassle of booting UAB for not having football and finding another football-playing school.

"I'm proud of our people for giving (UAB) the time or the space to figure it out and not put too much artificial pressure on them," Banowsky said. "It seems like they've just had the problem of getting everyone aligned in the same way around the football program. In some ways, it's a little bit of a wake up call for them. My hope and expectation is they'll be able to get more people pulling on the rope this time around or they realize now how valuable that asset was as they were about to lose it."

That's similar to what Clark said when I reminded him that, a year ago, he talked about getting UAB's facilities up to the level of a modern FBS school. Now, he sat at Media Day talking about rebuilding a whole program, which should start with a smaller, newer, better placed replacement for Legion Field, the only thing in Alabama more out of date than the Confederate battle flag.

"The great thing about the facilities is we're not saying it as an athletic department. Our whole town's saying it," Clark said. "I had a guy call me last night, "Coach, I've never seen Birmingham like this." This isn't me saying it. This is our community. I'm an Alabama guy, hadn't been in Birmingham my whole life. But when you know our school is the No. 1 job engine in the state, all of a sudden, you've got these people saying, "We want our community to be the best."

"That's what we were hoping would happen. So, maybe it took something like this...to wake some of these folks up and say "We've got to get involved." I think that's what we're hearing right now."

What he's also hearing, he thinks, is the effect of social media. I'd throw in the ubiquitous, voluminous sports media always ready to feed the daily ravenous news beast with a bite of the latest news prey. UAB turned into a national story. Fox Sports' Tim Brando jumped on this story like it was hot buttered corn and he'll stay on it for this week's Football Saturday show.

That's brought calls from Left Coast recruits and we're not talking as much Tempe as Tampa.

"We've got kind of a national footprint now that we obviously didn't have before," Clark said.

Barnowsky sees the transition to his replacement happening before the end of football season. He's also seen some pretty cool stuff from the conference he's kept together.

"I've seen teams make it to the Final Four," he said. "I saw that kid from Kansas hit a three-point shot to knock out Memphis. I saw Dwyane Wade put a team on his shoulders and take it to the Final Four out of this league. Saw Case Keenum put up unbelivable numbers on some great Houston teams."

What most of us media types at Media Day want to see is who'll replace Banowsky, who often ended his loquacious interviews with "promote the conference."

July 20, 2015

What's a Van Wagner?

To sum up FIU's seven-year deal with Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, announced today:

*VW takes over the selling of advertising and signage in FIU's facilities. They're also responsible for tickets packages and suite sales.

*The contests and games at the stadium/arena for fans attending the game? That's them.

*If rights to an FIU game aren't already assigned by Conference USA's deals with various partners, VW can shop them around to local radio or TV stations.

FIU expects the deal to bring in $9.1 million over the seven years.

ALSO...

This offseason, the athletic department finally hired a dedicated video person, which should improve the production qualities of the PantherVision broadcasts as well as any in-house produced video materials. 

June 18, 2015

Extending, & Extenuating

Credit to FIU Student Media for getting a sit down with FIU President Mark Rosenberg and to the president for being responsive to student media for the chat that resulted in this video. Rosenberg answers questions about athletic director Pete Garcia and the football program going back to Division II.

While Rosenberg could've given a Dikembe Mutumbo finger wag after swatting the second question into the metaphorical 10th row, he did a little dancing when asked about a Garcia contract extension (Garcia's up in 2016). Rosenberg called that question "premature," which it most certainly would be if this were a completely different athletic department and athletic director. As it is...look, if you're reading this, you probably know all about it and if you don't, click on "Pete Garcia" on the list of categories and read away. I have neither the time nor the inclination to rehash it all here.

Anyway, after Muhammad Ali Rosenberg floated like a butterfly from that question, he straight out said he wants to keep productive people around and Garcia, in his opinion, has been productive "with the resources he has had, with the capabilities that have evolved."

"Resources" is the less crass way of saying "money and people." According to USA Today's annual college sports economics survey, FIU received only 3 percent of its 2013-14 income from ticket sales, last in Conference USA. Meanwhile, its portion of the athletic's budget coming from subsidy was a Conference USA high 80.2 percent of which the overwhelming majority comes out of student fees.

 

June 04, 2015

NCAA Gives Big Yay to FIU Service

Regular people contribute money to help causes or charities. Serious people contribute time.

In addition to staying in good academic standing, FIU requires its athletes to give to the South Florida community with that most valuable, irreplaceable commodity -- time.

The NCAA recognized FIU athletes' devotion with its first Team Works Award for the school that put in the most community service hours from Jan. 5 through Mar. 19.

 

April 30, 2015

Sand Off to Nationals

The sand women left FIU at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to catch a pre-dawn flight out of Fort Lauderdale in a journey to Gulf Shores, Alabama. They could return as national champions.

The last AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championships will be this Friday and Saturday. Sand volleyball becomes a full-fledged NCAA sport next season and that Four Letter Organization will take over the championship in 2016. Hopefully, the West Washington Street Wackos, whose rulings sound formed from the logic of a Lewis Carroll character, will stage it someplace with more cool than Gulf Shores, Alabama.

As for this year, No. 3 seeded FIU, 18-1, faces No. 6 Florida State Friday and the Panthers beat FSU 3-2 earlier this season. When I talked to players and coach Rita Buck-Crockett for a story about a month ago, one thing they made clear: winning only whetted their appetite to destroy. Beat a top opponent 3-2, make it 5-0 next time. And they ended the season giving opponents the Godzilla, including lone conqueror Stetson. A 3-2 early season loss got avenged 4-1 with the lone match loss coming via retirement because of injury.

A win Friday morning against FSU puts FIU in a second round match with No. 2 Hawaii. Even if the Panthers lose there, they've still got a shot at getting to the championship match through the losers bracket in the double elimination tournament.

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With freshman teammate Anja Licka clearly appreciating the effort, Maryna Samoday gets the ball over the net against FAU's Mandy McIntosh.IMG_1665 (2)
Senior Summer Nash serving against FAU. Take cover.

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As she descends from defending her net, senior Summer Nash turns to see what partner Kristine Monforte will do with the altered kill attempt.

 

April 29, 2015

MacLaren C-USA Player of the Year; Arias, Serrano All-C-USA

When you win four Player of the Week awards and finish as medalist in the conference tournament with a record score for the tournament and single round, getting conference Player of the Year seems a "Duh!"

So, no surprise that junior Meghan MacLaren received that award, along with First Team All-Conference and sharing Most Improved Player with FAU's Heather Netti. MacLaren swings her sticks under the FIU visor in the NCAA Regional next week.

Sophomores Coralia Arias and Camila Serrano got Second Team All-Conference nods.

April 27, 2015

MacLaren Makes NCAAs

FIU didn't get an invitation to the NCAA Regionals as a team. FIU's only invitation to the NCAA party went to Conference USA individual champion Meghan MacLaren.

MacLaren will go to the St. George Regional, played at Entrada at Snow Canyon Country Club in St. George, Utah May 7-9.

 

April 24, 2015

Tennis Honors & Football Dollars

The tennis team lost in the Conference USA semi-final round to eventual champion Rice, but cleaned up nicely in the C-USA postseason awards.

Senior transfer from Clemson Yana Koroleva picked up Newcomer of the Year, Outstanding Singles Player at the Conference Championship, a First Team All-Conference singles and, with sophomore Nina Nagode, a First Team All-Conference doubles honor. Nagode received Second Team notice in singles while Carlotta Orlando joined Koroleva on the First Team. Nerma Caluk made the Third Team in singles.

FOOTBALL

You had to figure the dollars worked for FIU in their second two-year deal with Indiana similar to the way the first home-and-home deal put FIU $800,000 to the good.

And they did. An FIU spokesman said today that the Panthers will get $800,000 for playing Indiana near Disco Briscoe Hall while the Hoosiers will get $200,000 for facing FIU across the street from Parkview Hall in 2018. Net: +$600,000 on this deal, +$1.4 million on the whole four years.

The profit from the second deal, at least, will go to summer school and helping pay the total cost of attendance for each athlete. Conference USA stated last summer they would begin paying the total cost of attendance for each scholarship athlete in 2015-16.

April 22, 2015

MacLaren No. 1, FIU No. 2; Kickoff time on Sept. 3

Can't blame junior Meghan MacLaren that FIU finished second, eight shots back of winner Middle Tennessee State in t Conference USA championship at Fort Myers' Verandah Club

Needing to lead FIU back from an eight-shot deficit on the final day, MacLaren handled the course with the flawless daring that recalled McLarens driven by Ayrton Senna at Silverstone (yeah, I know, she's British, the race cars are named after New Zealander Bruce McLaren, but go with me on this...).

An eagle on the 488-yard, par-5 5th started a six-hole, 6-under run that continued with a par, then four consecutive birdies. In the process, MacLaren hit the nine-hole turn with a scorching 5-under 31 that caught, passed and dusted Middle Tennessee State sophomore Samantha Gotcher. When Gotcher woke up Wednesday morning, she had a six-shot lead. By the time she woke up on the golf course, MacLaren held a two-shot lead. Gotcher recovered late, but MacLaren played the final nine at 2-under to finish with a 7-under 65 and a 10-under 206, both Conference USA records. She took medalist honors by one shot over Gotcher.

Aside from MacLaren, however, the back nine devoured FIU Wednesday almost as messily as it did Monday.

The Panthers got within one shot of Middle at one point and the Raiders' choke muscles seemed to be in spasm. But, subtracting Gotcher and MacLaren, Middle played the final seven holes at a collective 2-over and FIU played it at a collective 9-over. The closing holes proved to be the championship holes. Monday, FIU shot 13-over on Nos. 14-18 while Middle's five golfers shot 2-under.

Sophomore Coralia Arias came in tied for ninth at even par 216. Sophomore Camila Serrano fell from sixth to 13th on the final day with a 3-over 75 that brought her to 2-over 218. Freshman Katerina Krasnova's 6-over 78 final round dropped her 15 spots to 35th, 10-over 226. And junior Carla Jane's 5-over 77 Wednesday left her 14-over, 230, tied for 40th.

 

FOOTBALL

CBS Sports Network decrees that FIU's football season opener at Central Florida will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 3. 

April 21, 2015

Solidly Second

FIU's on an island in the Conference USA golf championship -- Second Place Sandbar

Above the Panthers on the leaderboard by eight shots you find Middle Tennessee State (8-under overall), the other school that blew through Tuesday's 18 holes at a conference-record 7-under 281 for the day. Eight shots below FIU you'll find third place North Texas (8-over overall).

A 3-under 69 second round by junior Meghan MacLaren boosted the Panthers and got MacLaren up to second and 3-under after two days. That's still a fat six shots behind Middle's Samantha Gotcher. FIU's Camila Serrano played at 2-under 70 and is tied for sixth. Sophomore Coralia Arias' 3-under round brought her back to even  and a ninth place tie.

FIU got better Tuesday, not from start to finish, but at start and finish. The Panthers five golfers played the first five holes at 6 under par and the last five holes at 1 over instead of the 12 over Monday disaster that cost FIU the lead and, possibly, the championship.

 

 

April 20, 2015

Small Ball Drop

Well, that descended quickly.

Most of Day 1 of the Conference USA women's golf championships, FIU maintained a gap on the field that would do Annika Sorenstam proud. The Panthers' team lead fluctuated between three and five strokes. Their team score held within a similar range, 3-under to 5-under. Junior Meghan MacLaren and sophomore Camila Serrano joined a gaggle atop the leaderboard.

Cruising along as if enjoying their new ACME Bat-Man outfits, when...

 

So why will FIU wake up tomorrow for Day 2 at Fort Myers Verandah Club tied for fifth with Southern Mississippi at 7-over 295, eight shots behind leader Middle Tennessee State? A five-hole collapse that ended with a THUD on the 18th.

With the golfers playing at different times, it's hard to pinpoint when FIU started to imitate Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft. Serrano owned a share of the lead when she triple-bogeyed the par-4, 382-yard 16th hole. That hole turned into the second of back-to-back bogeys for Katarina Krasnova, who bogeyed three Nos. 15, 16 and 18.

MacLaren bogeyed Nos. 15 and 18. FIU''s No. 2, sophomore Coralia Arias, got down to 1-over with a birdie on the par-5 13th. But she gave that back and then some with a double bogey on the par-4, 361-yard No. 14. A birdie on No. 16 was matched by a bogey on the par-4, 380-yard 18th (of FIU's five Round 1 golfers, only Serrano escaped a bogey on No. 18.).

FIU's five golfers played the last five holes at 12-over. Fortunately, two days remain for the Panthers to get revenge on the course and climb the leaderboard in the process. 

To see a collapse like that by an FIU team, you have to go all the way back to...Sunday. The 17-2 battering FIU took from Western Kentucky cost them the series with a team around them in the standings. It also dropped them to 2-4 on Sundays in Conference USA play, a big reason they're 8-10 in the conference with little room for error to make the conference tournament.

Head coach Turtle Thomas played off the tonnage of the beating, noting how many times the 1927 New York Yankees got slaughtered. But the team meeting after the game lasted a very long time. Senior shortstop Julius Gaines, who went three for four, theorized after the game and before the meeting that maybe the chemistry on the team still isn't right. Also, Thomas said sophomore Chris Mourelle, FIU's most reliable pitcher all season, threw only in the 81-82 mph range Sunday. Hopefully, there's not a problem there.

Truly, nothing went right for FIU.  Western got a run out of a pair of choppers to Gaines that hopped higher than Denver today. With two outs in the fourth, FIU third baseman Josh Anderson fielded a grounder from Danny Hudzina that looked fair to the top row of the press box. It was ruled foul, putting Hudzina back in the box.

BAM -- home run. Next batter, Ryan Church, ZOOM -- home run. Western scored two more that inning.

Church went six for six for the day, but a spectacular defensive play of his would've ended the game if umpires could stop a game the way boxing referees can stop a fight. First and second, one out in the fourth, FIU's Zack Soria blasted a missile down the first base line, a sure double for the half-second before first baseman Church snapped his arm out for the snag and stepped on first to double the stunned runner.

FIU trailed 8-1 at that point. If you're in Vegas, that's when you get up from the table, call it a night.

Bizarre game. FIU pitcher Garrett Cave's natural hat trick of hit batters, which loaded the bases and brought in two runs, then a walk that brought in a run. Dillon Maya hitting the first batter he faced to bring in another run. Third baseman Hudzina trucking his longtime pal Church as Church tried to settle under an infield fly ball (that actually put the first runner on before Church played Laser Snag in the fourth).

Also, FIU wasted its opportunities. First and second, no outs in the second? One run and that because Josh Anderson slid to break up a double play relay and keep the inning alive. Bases loaded, one out in the third? Bupkes. Anderson lined out hard to the shortstop and JC Escarra flied out to center field to end the inning.

Meanwhile, the softball team made the most of two hits against Western's superthrower Miranda Kramer and eked out a 2-1 win as Corinne Jenkins pitched a four-hitter. Freshman Jessica Hallett ruined Kramer's no-hitter and shutout with one swing that tied the game in the fifth. An RBI single by Gabby Spallone brought in Rebekah Sanchez. Jenkins finished the job from there. 

The win kept alive FIU's slim chances for making the Conference USA tournament, which will be at Felsberg Field May 7-9. To make the tournament, the Panthers probably will need to sweep Charlotte May 2-3 in the season-ending three-game series at Charlotte.

April 16, 2015

Conference Titles in Tennis (Maybe) & Golf (More Likely) In One Week?

To start, give junior golfer Meghan MacLaren a slap on the back for being named to Conference USA's golf All-Academic team again. MacLaren, an English major, owns a 3.68 grade point average and four Golfer of the Week awards (should've been five) from this year.

MacLaren's once again the No. 1 player on an FIU team ranked No. 56 nationally by Golfstat.com and favored to win its second conference title in three years. You'd say FIU also gets the home course advantage as host of next week's Conference USA event, but this will all go down over in Fort Myers.

The 2013 Sun Belt champions finished fourth of 13 at the C-USA event last year and MacLaren was 12th overall. This year, she's had three medalist performances and eight of FIU's 11 individual top 10s. 

A great No. 1 can get you to the podium, but it's Nos. 2 through 5 that'll put you on the top step. For FIU to get it done next week at The Verandah Club, sophomore Coralia Arias, Camila Serrano (who tied MacLaren for 12th), Katerina Krasnova and Carla Jane can't spend the week arguing with their clubs.

Despite an undefeated conference record, 5-0, FIU's seeded fifth in the conference tennis tournament that begins today and has already been moved inside to dodge rain. A win against No. 12 Southern Mississippi, which FIU spanked 5-2 last month, puts them into the quarterfinal against the Middle Tennessee State/Western Kentucky winner. A win there likely runs the Panthers into No. 1 seed, two-time defending champion and host Rice.

By the way, the Panthers took down No. 2 seed Marshall, 4-3, at Camp Mitch on Mar. 28 with wins at Nos. 1-4 singles by senior Yana Koroleva, freshman Nerma Caluk, sophomore Nina Nagode and junior Kaitlin Brozovich.

Funky note: two teams in sports identified with Florida and the number of players from Florida on the two rosters? Two -- Miami Country Day graduate Ashley Shimmel and Palm Harbor University School graduate Jasmine Wade, both golfers.

 

April 10, 2015

172 FIU Athletes Make C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll

(Thought I posted this last night. Apparently, I only saved it. A face-down-on-the-keyboard mistake.)

A 3.0 GPA gets you on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, which 172 FIU athletes have done this year. FIU ranks eighth most among Conference USA's full membership schools. That's an improvement after 154 and tied for 12th last year.

The names are submitted to the conference by the schools.

Baseball (16): Brandon Cody, Charles Cormier, Cody Crouse, Ian Exposito, Julius Gaines, Evan Holland, David Lee, Spencer Levine, Dominic LoBrutto, Carlos Lopez, Andres Nunez, Mitchell Robinson, Austin Rodriguez, Jack Schaaf, Eduardo Silva, Zack Soria.

Men's Basketball (3): Larry Dennis (Huh? He transferred to a junior college at midseason), Kris Gulley, Hassan Hussein.

Women's Basketball (13): Jade Cheek, Jerica Coley (Say what? Everybody's happy she's still around campus doing graduate work, but how is she counting for this year? Was somebody just throwing names in there to see if C-USA was paying attemtion?), Marita Davydova, Arielle Durant (Uh, director of basketball oerations this year, not a player), Katrina Epnere, Aajah Hawkins, Amari Hawkins, Zsofia Labady, Tynia McKinzie (dismissed from the team at midseason), Taylor Shade, Nikolina Todorovic, Ciera Wheatley, Brianna Wright. 

Football (17): Chris Ayers, Richard Burrows, Christopher Cummins, Akil Dan-Fodio, Ricky Fernandez, Chris Flaig, Adrian Francois, Cody Hodgens, Yousif Khoury, Jose Laphitzondo, Fred Porter, Anthon Samuel, Donald Senat, Yohan Soares, Delmar Taylor, Scott Wade, Cory White.

Golf (8 -- the entire team): Coralia Arias, Sophie Godley, Carla Jane, Katerina Krasnova, Meghan MacLaren, Camila Serrano, Ashley Shimmel, Jasmine Wade.

Sand Volleyball (9): Marina Boulanger, Anna Budinska, Morgan Crawley, Aren Cupp, Alexa Diaz, Alexandria Johnson, Giovanna Pasos, Darija Sataric, Tina Toghiyani.

Men's Soccer (10): Quentin Albrecht, Roberto Alterio, Luca Giovine, Marvin Hezel, Nicholas Midttun, Deshawon Nembhard, Nico Pasquariello, Adam Sibiski, Robin Spiegel, Jesse Wear.

Women's soccer (16): Shelby Bowden, Ellen Crist, Marie Egan, Cyan Jean-Baptiste, Talia McMurtrie, Ryann Ramirez, Nikki Rios, Alyssa Robinson, Ashleigh Shim, Marlena Stablein, Sara Stewart, Nevana Stojakovic, Pat Tomanon, Johanna Volz, Madlen Weinhardt, Ashley Westberry.

Softball 10): Isabelle Barnes, Rachel Dwyer, Krystal Garcia, Samantha Green, Dominique Grossman, Jessica Hallett, Corinne Jenkins, Marisa McGregor, Michaela Mills, Rebekah Sanchez.

Swimming & Diving (20): Klara Andersson, Sabrina Beaupre (she's been off the eligibility clock since the 2014 NCAA's), Jessica Chadwick, Jenny Deist, Nadia Farrugia, Valerie Inghels, Anna Jonsson, Lily Kaufmann, Maria Lopez, Jean Madison, Alex Mayhew, Melissa Moreno, Sonia Perez-Arau (oh, come on! the only C-USA swimmer to score at the 2014 NCAAs. Lazy times in ), Valeriia Popova, Rebecca Quensel, Silvia Scalia, Alaina Smith, Kayley Tepe, Courtney VanderSchaaf, Becky Wilde. 

Tennis (6): Giulietta Boha, Valentina Briceno, Nerma Caluk, Yana Koroleva, Nina Nagode, Carlotta Orlando.

Men's cross country (7): Brandon Ballard, Ronny Greenup, Andres Magliano, Eli Monzon, Leonel Pozo, Daniel Puentes, Orlando Rodriquez.

Women's cross country (4): Adrienne Gerzeny, Katarina Rodriguez, Brittany Wasserbeck, Desmika White.

Men's track (10): Dylan Cook, Pablo Espitia, Garry Louima, Tyshawn Lytle, Desmond McGill, Luka Mustafic, Daniel Neptune, Wisdom Offor, Julian Santiago, Traivon Smith.

Women's track 12): Brittany Corbett, Phillicia Fluellen, Chandra Fulwood, Adrienne Gerzeny, Chelsea Gobourne, Anesha Gordon, Anna Heinzman, Tiffani Hernandez, Sharniece King, Symone Lindsay, Celine Murton, Lexis Shields.

Volleyball: Lucia Castro, Tia Clay, Maria Coukolis, Briana Gogins, Gloria Levorin, Anja Licka, Natalie Martinez, Kristine Monforte, Kari Peterson, Jovanna Santamaria, Anabela Sataric, Tina Toghiyani (wait, she already got counted back at sand volleyball...)

 

 

 

April 07, 2015

Panther Gets C-USA Player of the Week

Playing in the No. 1 slot for FIU, senior Yana Koraleva won both her singles matches last week in Navratilova/Serena fashion, 6-1, 6-1 over Central Florida's Caroline Eberhart and 6-2, 6-0 over Alabama-Birmingham's Rachel Daniell. The transfer from Clemson (where she was a two-time ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year and an All-America selection) also rolled in doubles with sophomore Nina Nagode.

For this, Koraleva received Conference USA's Women's Tennis Player of the Week.

By the way, Koraleva's got her own blog, which you might want to give the once over.

FIU's 5-0 in conference play going into next week's conference championship. It would be ironic (and appropriate?) if FIU won conference titles this year in swimming, golf and tennis, sports often associated with Florida, with rosters flavored International.

 

March 18, 2015

MacLaren Gets Golfer of the Week

Junior Meghan MacLaren led FIU to the Sun Belt Conference title as a freshman. Looks like she's ready to do the same in Conference USA this season.

MacLaren won her third conference Golfer of the Week award of the season off a tie for 10th in the Notre Dame Clover Cup with an 8-over 224. FIU finished fifth as a team behind No. 22 Arizona State, Notre Dame, Texas Christian and Oklahoma.

 

 

March 17, 2015

Rosenberg on Garcia

FIU President Mark Rosenberg did the most recent evaluation of Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia in January.

Rosenberg complimented Garcia on improvements in several administrative areas and student-athlete academic performance. Rosenberg showed displeasure with fund-raising, attendance and some other areas.

Here's the full evaluation, done in the same two-page letter form as the previous evaluation.

Download Pete Garcia 13-14 Manager Evaluation

March 03, 2015

Building Stuff

Funny what you can learn sitting around the arena on a Friday afternoon.

Executive director for sports and entertainment Pete Garcia passed with Senior Associate ADs Julie Berg and Heath Glick and invited me along to look at the choice of new chairs for FIU Arena.

IMG_20150227_133226

At least all the lower bowl chairs in the arena will be replaced. That's the "Bleacher Project" referred to in the pre-Miss Universe e-mail to Glick as "likely scrapped." 

The other project mentioned as "likely scrapped" in that e-mail, the softball/golf locker room, should be started after FIU hosts Conference USA softball championships, according to Garcia and Berg. The new practice area for the track and field throwers, also part of the Women's Sports Initiative, should be done before the year's out. Garcia said a major upgrading of the baseball stadium will be coming in the next year or two. 

A major donation should be announced soon that'll pay for the baseball stadium and arena seat replacement. The other projects should be covered under what's been collected for the Women's Sports Initiative.

Recently, I heard again from someone close to the situation, as I did last fall, that the long-awaited soccer/track stadium will become a reality once FIU takes over the Youth Fair land. Don't confuse this with any drive to get Major League Soccer as a temporary FIU tenant. This pitch would be for FIU and youth teams.

Considering the amount of time we've been waiting on this project, all skepticism until dirt gets disturbed is warranted.

 

February 27, 2015

New Football Spring Practice Schedule & a Caveat for Athletes

The spring football practice schedule got modified. This matters to those who wish to take advantage of this year's practices being open to the public instead of conducted under a giant Cone of Silence.

FIU reminds everybody attending that photos, video or live reporting is a no-no inside La Cage (because, hey, it's not like there's two years of FIU film and nine years of Chicago Bears film to clue you in on what FIU's going to do offensively).

Anyway, here's the schedule:

Mar. 19, 21, 24, 28, 31, Apr. 2, 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Mar. 26: 10 a.m.

Apr. 3: 7 p.m.

Apr. 17: Spring Game, 7 p.m.

WORDS OF CAUTION

Repeat of a message to current and future student-athletes: you are representing your school, your family and yourself in your communication that's going out to your followers (and, perhaps, their followers). And while your current coach might not care, future employers could have limited appreciation for words and photos demonstrating sexist or racist attitudes. And your commentary on, say, oral sex, while entertaining to some, could be construed as showing yourself deficient in discretion (or good sense).

By the way, I'm cool with being blocked (I know FIU requested it of some teams). It doesn't change the above one bit. Nor does it change how I cover you or your sport. 

 

February 24, 2015

Alumni Association statement on Athletics

The FIU Alumni Association put a message on its Facebook page today in semi-reaction to the statement from Alumni Association President Frank Pena calling for a change in FIU Athletic Department leadership:

"The FIU Alumni Association would like to clarify that recent statements made by Alumni Association President Frank Peña do not necessarily represent the views of the Alumni Association's Board of Directors or its members. Peña himself has said that he was expressing personal views regarding the Athletics Department leadership.

The FIU Alumni Association unequivocally support our student athletes, our coaches and President Mark B. Rosenberg, and strive to continue our mission of serving and supporting FIU's alumni by providing lifelong connections to the University. The Alumni Association is focused on furthering key University priorities such as the expansion project and FIU's Next Horizon Capital Campaign."

Conspicuous by its absence on the Alumni Association support list: Athletic Department leadership.

That's not an accident.

 


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