Florida International’s first game under the stewardship of Isiah Thomas (above) is listed as a Nov. 9 tipoff against defending national champs North Carolina. Trouble is, FIU’s athletic director claims he’d only agreed to play Ohio State. From the Miami Herald :
FIU A.D. Pete Garcia said he felt the Golden Panthers were “bullied” by organizers of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament and that he expected Thomas’ debut to be at Ohio State instead.
“Would they do what they’re doing to us to Duke, or to North Carolina? No,” Garcia said. “But they’ll do it to FIU and any other school out there like FIU.”
The Princeton, N.J.-based Gazelle Group, which operates the tournament, said Garcia signed a contract in November 2008 stipulating the Golden Panthers would play Ohio State or North Carolina sometime between Nov. 9-13. Garcia acknowledged signing that deal.
He said “it’s a matter of principle and a matter of the contract” why FIU won’t agree to playing North Carolina instead.
“We’re being bullied into that game,” Garcia said. “I’ve told them today, we’ll play Ohio State, we don’t want to play North Carolina.”
FIU hired Thomas, the former New York Knicks coach and president, on April 15 and gave him a five-year contract. Garcia said many of the nation’s biggest programs have called about scheduling FIU since Thomas got hired.
“Everyone wants to play us now,” Garcia said.
If nothing else, this oughta be terrific bulletin board material for Thad Matta. What better motivation for the Buckeyes than being reminded, repeatedly, that unranked F.I.U. would prefer to play Ohio State?