Florida International University director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia will defer his salary for one season as part of the school’s handling of the budget shortfalls caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. Simultaneously, FIU will furlough 22 athletics department employees through July and dissolve its men’s indoor track & field team, according to the AP’s Tim Reynolds.
Garcia’s 2020-2021 salary is $435,689.
The school has not yet disclosed the moves publicly, and no details about the 22 furloughed employees have been revealed.
This is the first big fallout from a Conference USA athletics program this week with rumors circulating that the conference is considering drastic measures, including instructing all schools to cut their athletics programs to the minimum allowed for Division I.
Indoor track & field has a significant overlap with the men’s cross country and outdoor track & field teams, both of which continue to exist. The FIU men’s indoor track & field team competed in 5 meets last season, and with the overlap in staffs and rosters, the biggest cost savings here might be travel.
Generally, outdoor track & field is the primary of the two competitive seasons. The FIU women finished 10th out of 13 teams at the 2020 CUSA Indoor Track & Field Championships while the FIU men finished 9th out of 10 teams.
The dropping of the men’s indoor track & field team reduces FIU to 6 men’s athletics teams: baseball, basketball, cross country, outdoor track & field, football, and soccer. Schools are required to sponsor at least 6 men’s sports and 8 women’s sports, or at least 7 men’s sports and 7 women’s sports, to remain in Division I of the NCAA.
The school currently sponsors 11 women’s programs, including a swimming & diving team. That team is the 6-time defending Conference USA women’s champions.
While many more cuts of Division I programs, especially in the Olympic sports sphere, are expected, thus far there have only been a handful. Most notably, the Cincinnati men’s soccer team was cut, which raised warning signals around the country.