FIU took another loss on Tuesday – and rightfully so. Less than a week after refusing to credential Miami Herald beat writer David J. Neal for the season opener against Bethune Cookman, the school had a change of heart and handed the beat writer a press pass for the remainder of the season, via an announcement from the paper.
The school only gave credentials to a Herald columnist and a photographer leading up to the game, so the paper respectfully refused to provide any coverage. FIU issued a statement claiming that they were concerned about his “antagonistic interactions with our student athletes, coaches and staff.” Since I previously worked for the student newspaper and have experience interacting with the athletic department, I can assure you that’s bullshit. FIU wanted to dictate the coverage and force the Miami Herald to find another beat writer to cover the school. It’s a power move that plenty of other NCAA schools have tried, most notably South Carolina. There’s a reason why the only other South Florida paper, the Sun Sentinel, has not provided a beat writer to cover the football team for years. What they probably realized is that you’re shooting yourself in the foot by declining the only paper in town willing to give a damn about you.
Outside of T.Y. Hilton, FIU has been a national embarrassment for years, largely in part of their AD Pete Garcia. FYI: His
made-up job title at the school is “executive of sports and entertainment.”
Just before Garcia took over in 2006, the school was involved in an infamous brawl with the University of Miami where 13 players were ejected, eight of which came from the Golden Panthers.
Luckily for Garcia, that wasn’t under his watch. However, the following things were:
• FIU threatens to pull out of Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament because they wanted to face a weaker opponent.
• Athletic department refuses to have Relay for Life fund-raiser at the stadium because they refused to let food and drinks onto the field.
• Remember baseball star Garrett Wittels? Yeah, the school didn’t suspend him after being accused of raping a 17-year-old in the offseason, probably because he was on the verge of breaking Robin Ventura’s 58-game hitting streak. The charges were dropped and Wittels fell two hits shy of the record.
• FIU fires Mario Cristobal – the only coach to lead the school to a bowl game.
• How ‘bout that time a former FIU baseball player who was also a registered sex offender, threw out the first pitch. Oh, and he also flew with the softball team.
And now this fiasco. We’ll probably never publicly know why the school banned him for the opener. We can only guess. I worked with Neal during my years at FIU and I can tell you he’s a top-class veteran journalist that actually digs for dirt. He’s criticized the school for their football attendance along with other items I’ve listed here. I’m sure that left Garcia uneasy. Maybe he should focus more on the football program instead of the coverage. After all, they went 1-11 last year and just lost to the same FCS opponent – a school in which they’re probably paying to play – for the second straight season.
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