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Pete Garcia

Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment

  • Overview
  • On May 4, 2012, FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg and Director of Sports & Entertainment Pete Garcia hosted a community engagement in the club room at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium to accept an all-sports invitation to join Conference USA for the 2013-14 academic year. The invitation would be symbolic of the tremendous strides the FIU Athletics program has gained under Garcia’s direction since 2006.

    The C-USA invitation will provide the athletics program increased national television visibility and align the school’s academia with other like institutions across a vast geographical footprint. FIU joins a conference whose schools stretch across the Gulf States and into Texas and north into the United States’ Mid-Atlantic region.

    “This is a milestone day for FIU Athletics,” said Garcia. “This gives FIU increased opportunities to showcase a very successful athletics program on a national level. The increased visibility through Conference USA will also create further awareness for our law school, new medical school and the rest of our academic programs.”

    During Garcia’s tenure, FIU teams have enjoyed 12 conference championships, 15 postseason appearances and over two dozen student-athletes have garnered All-America selection. Within the past seven years, the Student-Athlete Academics Center (SAAC) has been bolstered with increased advisors, tutors and computers. The compliance office staff has grown as well, including the first known Academic Progress Rate (APR) specialist in the country.  

    For 2012-13, 162 student-athletes garnered FIU Dean’s List recognition for having a 3.5 grade point average or higher, while a total of 378 student-athletes were honored through the Sun Belt Conference for having a 3.0 GPA or higher. In 2011-12, FIU graduated 80 student-athletes, the highest number of athletic graduates in school history.

    “Our No. 1 priority is to ensure that all of our student-athletes have the resources and support necessary to graduate and be ready for the outside world. That’s the reason we are dedicated to intercollegiate athletics,” Garcia said.

    Highlighting facilities growth during his tenure, Garcia oversaw the building and operation of the University’s on-campus football stadium, Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium, and the R. Kirk Landon Fieldhouse, which houses the Doctors Hospital Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Athletics Training Complex. Most notably, FIU Stadium saw the completion of its latest expansion prior to the 2012 season, which saw the enclosing of the venue’s north side creating one of the loudest and intimate multi-sport facilities in South Florida.

    U.S. Century Bank Arena has also become a model facility and annually hosts commencement, athletics and entertainment events. In addition to U.S. Century Bank, other partners such as Lime restaurants and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, have joined together to recreate a beautiful “South Beach” ambience when fans come to campus to attend basketball games. This includes one of the most tropical basketball courts in the United States, along with a courtside “cabana” section, reminiscent of being pool side at one of the Beach’s top hotels. In 2012, FIU finished nearly $10 million in renovations and enhancements to U.S. Century Bank Arena, which now includes a suites level and grand entrance.

    FIU’s newest athletics program, sand volleyball, which began competition during spring 2013, also plays in their-own dedicated facility located on the Modesto A. Maidique campus.

    Off-campus, Garcia is quite active across the South Florida sports and entertainment landscape. He is among a select few named to the Executive Committee of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission, a Collegiate Representative committee member for the Orange Bowl Committee since 2007 and had represented FIU on the 21-member NCAA Division I Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet.

    In addition to his athletics duties at FIU, Garcia also served as Administrative Director for the renowned South Beach Food & Wine Festival. Since 2008, the Festival has seen a period of outstanding growth. The 2012 Festival attracted more than 60,000 guests and approximately $2 million raised for FIU. Student participation in the event has grown, with more than 1,000 FIU students receiving practical experience.

    Garcia first worked at the University of Miami from 1990 through 2000, and it was in 1992 that he became the football program’s recruiting coordinator. In 2001, Garcia joined former Miami head coach Butch Davis with the Cleveland Browns as director of football development. Two years later, Garcia was promoted to vice president.

    Born in Havana, Cuba, Garcia’s family came to Miami in 1967. He graduated from Hialeah High School and the University of Miami before landing a position with the Miami Dolphins in 1989.
     
    From the Beginning
    April 13, 2011, Florida International University and Garcia, its Director of Athletics, signed-off on a five-year contract extension through 2016 that saw his role expand into the school’s newly-created position of Executive Director of Sports & Entertainment. The move to expand Garcia’s title had come on the heels of FIU’s athletics department and South Beach Food and Wine Festival events enjoying five of its most successful years in the history of their respective programs.  

    In his present capacity, Garcia serves FIU in dual capacities, as Director of Athletics for the Panthers 18 varsity sport programs and as Administrative Director for the world-renowned South Beach Food & Wine Festival, an event started by the FIU School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Biscayne Bay Campus in 1997.

    Creating a Culture of Excellence
    When former FIU President Modesto A. Maidique hired Garcia on Oct. 16, 2006, the pair shared a lofty vision to see the school’s intercollegiate sports program become a pillar of success for the University, on campus, in the community and nationally.

    Familiar with such a staunch task from his previous senior level posts in the National Football League and at the University of Miami, Garcia knew he had to install a new culture built around excellence. His commitment to academics and NCAA compliance has been paramount. He has aggressively improved all aspects of the program, from facilities and support staffs, to attract some of the country’s finest coaches to FIU. With outstanding coaches and beautiful venues, top-notch student-athletes would follow – and they have.  

    The positive impact achieved through Garcia’s plan for success was recognized during fall 2013 when FIU’s athletic programs finally began competition in the nationally-renowned Conference USA.
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  • Bringing Top Coaches to FIU
    At the core of FIU’s athletics achievement has been the addition of top coaches to the program. Most recently, longtime NFL coaching veteran and former Big Ten Coach of the Year Ron Turner took over the FIU football program in 2012. The following April, Anthony Evans, signed on to lead the men’s basketball program after enjoying back-to-back postseason tournament appearances and MEAC Coach of the Year honor at his previous stop. Women’s Tennis, under Katarina Petrovic, a former top assistant in the SEC who joined FIU in the fall of 2012, looks to be the next sport primed for a jump into the national spotlight.

    In 2007, Garcia tapped Henry “Turtle” Thomas to lead the baseball program. Under Thomas, FIU went to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011. In years since, Garcia has been able to bring on other top coaches such as Ken Arena (men’s soccer), Rita Buck-Crockett (women’s indoor and sand volleyball), Eric Campbell (track and field), Thomas Chestnutt (women's soccer), Randy Horner (women’s swimming and diving) and Jake Schumann (Softball).

    “They all know their games, they are relentless workers and exceptional recruiters,” Garcia said. “That’s the blueprint of everybody we have hired.”

    Athletics Facilities on the Rise
    Visitors to the beautifully tropical Modesto A. Maidique Campus at FIU will find it difficult to miss the presence and continual development of some of the finest intercollegiate athletics venues in the state.

    Highlighting facilities growth during his tenure, Garcia oversaw the building and operation of the University’s on-campus football stadium, Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium, and the R. Kirk Landon Fieldhouse. Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium, which was renovated in 2008, now stands at 20,000 seats after the addition to a new seating section on the north side prior to the start of the 2012 season. The adjacent two-story, 50,000-square-foot R. Kirk Landon Fieldhouse, which opened in 2009, includes the 14,000-square-foot Doctors Hospital Center for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.

    U.S. Century Bank Arena has also become a model facility and annually hosts commencement, athletics and entertainment events. In addition to U.S. Century Bank, other partners such as Lime restaurants and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, have joined together to recreate a beautiful “South Beach” ambience when fans come to campus to attend basketball games. In 2013, FIU completed the resurfacing of the court. With its one-of-a-kind look the new floor, featuring a beach scene, is something that is expected to attract recruits and provide a home-court advantage. On August, 23, 2013, FIU announced a partnership with Lime Fresh Mexican Grill (Downtown Dadeland & West Kendall) in which the “Not Your Average Burrito Joint” secured the naming rights for the court at U.S. Century Bank Arena. Shortly thereafter, the Fontainbleau Miami Beach came aboard and drew naming rights for the new lobby. In 2012, FIU finished nearly $10 million in renovations and enhancements to U.S. Century Bank Arena, which now includes a suites level and grand entrance.

    FIU’s newest athletics program, sand volleyball, which began competition during spring 2013, also plays in their-own dedicated facility located on the Modesto A. Maidique campus.

    South Beach Food and Wine Festival Becomes a Global Attraction
    Benefitting FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Teaching Restaurant and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center, the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE and hosted by FIU and Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida, is a national, star-studded, four-day destination event showcasing the talents of the world's most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities.

    Since Garcia’s tenure started as Administrative Director of the event in 2008, similar to FIU Athletics, the Festival has seen a period of outstanding growth and prosperity. The 2012 Festival attracted more than 60,000 guests and approximately $2 million raised for the University. Student participation in the event has also grown, with more than 1,000 FIU students now receiving valuable practical experience.

    Active in the Community
    Off-campus, Garcia is a key player across the South Florida sports and entertainment landscape. He is among a select few named to the Executive Committee of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission, a Collegiate Representative committee member for the Orange Bowl Committee since 2007 and represents FIU on the 21-member NCAA Division I Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet.

    With Garcia, the Miami-Dade Sports Commission recently partnered with WWE to host WrestleMania Week in Miami-Dade in 2012. The week-long fete for the most successful sports and entertainment vehicle in the world was an economic boon for the community bringing sold-out crowds and millions of television viewers to several live professional wrestling events at AmericanAirlines Arena and Sun Life Stadium.
        
    With the OBC, Garcia joins other esteemed University Presidents and Athletic Directors from South Florida’s other NCAA institutions on a membership make-up that includes the most prominent business men and women charged in promoting the community through a year-round calendar of youth, collegiate and entertainment events.

    Most notably, in 2013, the OBC was the spotlight of the college football world hosting the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game between Alabama and Notre Dame, in addition to the annual Discover Orange Bowl game – both held at Sun Life Stadium.

    A Formidable Background
    Garcia first worked at the University of Miami from 1990 through 2000, and it was in 1992 that he became the football program’s recruiting coordinator. In that position, he was instrumental in recruiting student-athletes and future NFL stars Vernon Carey, Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Ray Lewis, Bryant McKinnie, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Jeremy Shockey, Jonathan Vilma, Vince Wilfork, amongst several others. In 2001, Garcia joined former Miami head coach Butch Davis with the Cleveland Browns as director of football development. Two years later, Garcia was promoted to vice president.

    Born in Havana, Cuba, Garcia’s family came to Miami in 1967. He graduated from Hialeah High School and the University of Miami before landing a position with the Miami Dolphins in 1989.

    Garcia says that directing the Panthers has given him an opportunity to further his career without leaving the community he loves.

    “South Florida has been very good to me and what better way to pay it back than establishing another elite sports program that the community can rally behind,” Garcia said. “Our goal is to get our alumni and students excited about this program and ensure that our student-athletes have all the tools to compete at the highest level.”

     

 

News & Blogs
Pete Garcia

Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment

  • Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia enters his sixth season at FIU. Since his arrival on Oct. 16, 2006, Garcia has worked at promoting the FIU athletic program while instilling a commitment of excellence with his coaches, department staff and student-athletes.
  • Under Garcia, the athletic department has added more advisors, tutors and computers to the academic support program for student-athletes and has hired more compliance officers, including the first known APR specialist in the country, to ensure adherence with NCAA rules and regulations.
  • Over the past five years, academics have continued to be a focus of Garcia's. During the 2010-11 school year, 61 student-athletes garnered Dean's List (3.5 GPA or better) recognition, while over 100 student-athletes were honored by the Sun Belt Conference for their academic achievements. Two seasons ago, FIU graduated 73 student-athletes, the highest number of athletic graduates in the history of the program.
  • Under Garcia, FIU showed significant improvement for the fourth-straight year in regards to the NCAA's annual Academic Progress Report (APR) as six teams (women's cross country, softball, swimming & diving, women's tennis, women's indoor track & field and women's outdoor track & field) recorded perfect yearly scores of 1,000. In the latest APR report, FIU's athletic programs registered their highest multi-year scores across the board in the seven-year history of the APR. Of the athletic department's 17 sports programs, 16 finished above the required multi-year score of 925, while men's basketball increased its multi-year score from 886 in 2008-09 to 910 the following year (+24 points) - the first time the squad has recorded a multi-year score over 900.
  • "Our No. 1 priority is to ensure that all of our student-athletes have the resources and support necessary to graduate and be ready for the outside world. That's the reason we are in the business," Garcia said.
  • Upon his hiring, Garcia immediately began evaluating programs and shuffling his coaching staff in an effort to turn FIU's athletic fortunes. He brought in proven winners like Henry "Turtle" Thomas, who has guided FIU to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances (2010, 2011) and earned the 2010 Sun Belt crown, to take over the baseball team; Mario Cristobal, who was named the 2010 Sun Belt Coach of the Year after leading the team to its first-ever Sun Belt title and first-ever bowl appearance and victory in football; and NBA Hall of Fame player, Isiah Thomas, in men's basketball.
  • "They all know their games, they are relentless workers and exceptional recruiters," Garcia said. "That's the blueprint of everybody we have hired."
  • In five seasons under Garcia's direction, the FIU Athletic Department has flourished on the field as well. The Panthers have collected 10 Sun Belt Titles, 10 NCAA Tournament berths and 23 All-Americans. During the 2010-11 year, FIU garnered three SBC Coaches of the Year (Mario Cristobal, Chris Mantilla and Melissa Applebaum-Dall'au), 54 all-conference selections, thee conference Players of the Year (Pablo Bermudez - baseball, T.Y. Hilton - football, Sabrina Beaupre - swimming & diving) and two conference Freshmen of the Year (Shelby Coyle - golf, Chelsea Leiva - Women's Soccer).
  • Garcia also oversaw construction and operation of the University's on-campus football stadium, Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium, and the R. Kirk Landon Fieldhouse. The 18,000-seat stadium, with expected future expansion to 45,000, opened on September 20, 2008. The adjacent two-story, 50,000-square foot fieldhouse, which opened in the summer of 2009, includes a 14,000-square foot clean-span weight room that is used by all FIU student-athletes for their strength and conditioning needs.
  • He first worked at Miami from 1990 through 2000, and in 1992, became the football program's recruiting coordinator. In that position, he was instrumental in recruiting athletes like current NFL veterans Vernon Carey, Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Ray Lewis, Bryant McKinnie, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Jeremy Shockey, Jonathan Vilma and Vince Wilfork.
  • In 2001, Garcia joined former Miami head coach Butch Davis with the Cleveland Browns as director of football development. Two years later, Garcia was promoted to vice president.
  • Born in Havana, Cuba, Garcia's family came to Miami in 1967. He graduated from Hialeah High School and the University of Miami before landing a job with the Miami Dolphins in 1989.
  • Garcia says that directing the Panthers has given him an opportunity to further his career without leaving the community he loves.
  • "South Florida has been very good to me and what better way to pay it back than establishing another elite sports program that the community can rally behind," Garcia said. "Our goal is to get our alumni and students excited about this program and ensure that our student-athletes have all the tools to compete at the highest level."