POSTED: 12:30 p.m. HST, Jul 22, 2012
~~<p>From a time when it was little more than an imaginative gleam in the eye of the man whose name it would eventually take, the Stan Sheriff Center has been steadfastly watched over by one family.</p>
From a time when it was little more than an imaginative gleam in the eye of the man whose name it would eventually take, the Stan Sheriff Center has been steadfastly watched over by one family. Sheriff, the University of Hawaii athletic director (1983-93) who conceived and fiercely fought for its construction, never got to see its opening, dying on the job in January 1993, five months before the groundbreaking. Care of the 10,300-seat facility was turned over to Sheriff’s youngest son, Rich, who has served as arena manager since the days leading up to its Oct. 21, 1994, debut. But the nearly 30-year relationship has been on official hiatus since July 11, when Sheriff and athletic director Jim Donovan were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a UH-commissioned investigation into the Stevie Wonder concert controversy. Sheriff said he has been instructed not to talk to the media. “It is tough for (Rich),” said former basketball coach Riley Wallace. “He has put his heart into that arena. He is the reason that place has been so well taken care of over the years.” THE YOUNGEST of Stan and Jane Sheriff’s three sons, Rich took much more than an administrator’s pride in the operation and care of the facility. Friends joked that was, in part, because he’d have to answer to the bronze bust of his father in the main lobby if he didn’t. Rich could usually be seen helping put down the Teraflex floor where there was a late-night changeover from basketball to volleyball. He was often about the premises scraping gum off the floors or, paint brush in hand, touching up nicks on the walls. Until the leave, which has meant a forced absence of his once omnipresent “SSC” (Stan Sheriff Center) license plate from the parking lot, he had been overseeing a resurfacing of the court that will reflect UH’s new league home, the Big West Conference — tasks that have fallen to assistants Russ Gima and Kekoa Seward. For much of the arena’s existence, UH was prohibited from competing with the city-owned Blaisdell Arena for bookings. More recently UH has been allowed to hold non-sporting events under a permit arrangement, officials have said. A spokesman for the Manoa Chancellor’s office in 2007 said it had become Board of Regents policy to create opportunity for rental of facilities. SO, THE 49-year-old Sheriff was charged with trying to secure income-producing events for the arena in the periods when men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams and coaches’ camps did not use the arena. He was the point man on five visits by the Los Angeles Lakers and others. A set of size 22 shoes encased on an office shelf were a token of Shaquille O’Neal’s appreciation from one of them. Sheriff facilitated the Toyota Motor Sales USA National Dealer Meeting that pumped $500,000 into UH and dozens of church group events. He oversaw a Christina Aguilera concert and Miss Universe pageant. Friends say he had high hopes for the planned Aug. 18 Stevie Wonder concert brought to him by local promoter Bob Peyton, a former UH student body officer — especially when the presale to UH donors and corporate partners resulted in sales of 2,500 tickets prior to the general public offering. Now he awaits the results of an investigation that will determine whether the arena still has a Sheriff watching over it. ——— Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820.
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