Isiah Thomas and FIU are either playing North Carolina, Ohio State or some weird team we don’t know about in the season opener

SHARE Isiah Thomas and FIU are either playing North Carolina, Ohio State or some weird team we don’t know about in the season opener

Isiah Thomas’ coaching career at basketball powerhouse Florida International University is off to a dramatic start. Thomas, who had a — uh — less than successful run with the New York Knicks, was inked to a five-year deal by the university in April.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, how about a whole bunch of confusion, grumbling and rumbling over the opponent for the first game of the season.

Earlier today, the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels relased their season schedule, which featured an opener against FIU. The game would be part of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament and would most likely be over by halftime.

The only problem, FIU already sent out notice that they’d be opening their season against Ohio State.

FIU officials were equal parts incensed and stunned when they received an e-mailed press release of the Tar Heels’ schedule, listing Florida International as the season opener. Athletic director Pete Garcia said the school had been approached by the Gazelle Group, the tourney organizers, about switching its opener from the Buckeyes to the defending national champions but refused. We knew nothing about this until the press release from North Carolina today, Garcia said. We told them last week we would not change the game and had never agreed to this. Gazelle Group president Rick Giles said that he has a contract, signed by Garcia, which stipulates that FIU would play either Ohio State or North Carolina, leaving the choice at the discretion of the Gazelle Group. He said that is the way his company has written contracts for 15 years and fully expects the school to honor its agreement. I would be stunned if Isiah Thomas’ first act as a head coach was to break a contract, Giles said, although Thomas pointed out that the contract, signed in November 2008, was agreed upon before he arrived at FIU.

The Golden Panthers look intent on not playing the Tar Heels — so much so that Garcia said they would look elsewhere to fill the potential hole their schedule

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