After a high school football career that lasted “a few hours,” Pedro (Pete) Garcia, B.B.A. ’84, worked full-time for Eastern Airlines while studying business management at the University of Miami. Born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Miami, Garcia and his brother, Luciano Garcia, B.S. ’82, grew up avid Hurricane fans.

“I always wanted to go into football personnel, and I got a break,” says Garcia, who landed an intern position in 1988 with Tom Heckert Sr., former Miami Dolphins director of pro personnel. “We watched film together and did administrative work. He taught me a lot about talent evaluation.”

Garcia became recruiting coordinator at the University in 1990, then served as director of football operations from 1995 to 2000. In 2001 he joined the NFL’s Cleveland Browns as vice president of player personnel and football development. “I thought my wife and daughter were going to have an issue with the cold weather,” he says, “but to be honest, we all liked the snow.”

After serving from 2005 t0 2006 as UM’s senior associate athletic director in September 2005 Garcia became the athletic director at Florida International University.

“Great football players are gifted athletically, but they’re also smart,” says Garcia. He should know. The dozens of NFL standouts that he helped recruit out of high school include Ray Lewis, Jonathan Vilma, Warren Sapp, Vernon Carey, Joaquin Gonzalez, Jeremy Shockey, Andre Johnson, Santana Moss, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, and Bubba Franks.

“A lot of those guys beat us on Sundays,” Garcia says, recalling his tenure from the Browns. “They’d come over to the sideline after the game, give me a hug, and say, ‘Hey, Pete, it was nothing personal. You’d want us to perform at our best, even if it’s against your team,’ and I would say, ‘You’re darn right.’”

— Leonard Nash