Florida International University (FIU) athletics director Pete Garcia has made splashy hires since taking the position at FIU in 2006. He hired former NBA great Isaiah Thomas as his head men’s basketball coach in 2009. More recently he hired former University of Miami and Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis as his head football coach and even took the NCAA mandated test to help him recruit players to FIU.
On June 28, 2016, Garcia made a less splashy, but good hire when he introduced former Bethune-Cookman and Alabama State head baseball coach Mervyl Melendez as the head baseball coach at FIU. A native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, Melendez becomes the first HBCU graduate to coach a Division I non-HBCU since Tuskegee graduate Miles McAfee was hired by St. Mary’s in 1973. Howard graduate Bubba Watson is believed to be the pioneer, hired by the University of Washington in 1972.
“It’s a great honor to be where I am now, but you can’t lose sight of where you come from,” said Melendez, whose Panthers open the season at home with a three-game series against Jacksonville State on Friday. “I am a product of an HBCU, not only on the coaching side but the education side as a graduate of Bethune-Cookman and as a former employee of Alabama State, that has made me the coach I am today and I look forward to representing the people that have touched my career and my life.