There’s a giant in Miami just coming into its own.
With hundreds of student-athletes competing in 17 Division I sports, FIU has earned monumental wins in recent years, among them a football victory over the University of Miami in 2019 and a takedown of No. 1-ranked Marshall in men’s soccer in the fall of 2021, not to mention the perennially dominant women’s swim and dive team.
Now. Panther nation is aiming higher.
In November 2021, the university hired Scott Carr as its new athletic director. Formerly with Auburn and the University of Central Florida, where he built one of the country’s standout programs, he comes with 25 years of collegiate athletics experience in marketing,
At FIU, Carr immediately noticed the power and potential around him. He told reporters that in the world of college athletics, he aims to make FIU a monster.
“FIU is a young university with a large student body and large alumni base right here in Miami-Dade County,” Carr said. “There’s power in youthful energy and there’s power in those numbers. That’s something that excites me."
His enthusiasm is coupled with the hiring of a new head football coach: Mike MacIntyre, a Miami native with a history of turning programs into national contenders.
“I’ve had other opportunities at other places, but I’ve always thought this area was a hotbed,” said MacIntyre, who won AP National Coach of the Year in 2016.
“I knew a lot about FIU, but I didn’t realize all the buildings, the cranes, the 58,000 students. I always knew FIU was a gold mine, but now I know it’s an even better one than I thought."
After meeting with MacIntyre, football players took to Twitter to share their excitement for the year ahead.
“The first team meeting with [Coach MacIntyre] went great,” freshman recreation and sport management major Keegan Davis wrote. “He has a plan for FIU football. I’m excited for the future and the next chapter. Can’t wait to get to work.”
Carr and MacIntyre look to build on the accomplishments of a football program that has played in three bowl games over the last five seasons, a women's tennis team that is on its way to a ninth consecutive winning season and a women’s swimming and diving team that, in true dynastic style, has won seven consecutive Conference USA championships.
Panthers have also stacked victories in the classroom. In 2019, the athletic department earned the Conference USA Institutional Excellence Award for posting the highest GPA in the league, and student-athletes posted an overall GPA of 3.0 or better in 12 straight semesters.
The rush of energy around FIU athletics is undeniable.
“I’m very excited for what’s to come, and not just football. All of the sports,” said David Hondal '19 MS '21, a second- generation fan who, like his dad, has stayed true to his alma mater through the ups and downs. For him, the Panthers now have a winning combination across all teams. Says he: “The future is bright.”
Added to the excitement around new staff are considerations of enhancements and expansion of athletics facilities. Interim FIU President Kenneth A. Jessell recognizes the value of such investment, particularly as South Florida is a recruiting hotbed for multiple sports. “The pride is there,“Jessell says. “Now let's see just how far we can go.”