POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 11, 2012
~~<p>At a commanding 6 feet, 6 inches and 270 pounds, former Pro Bowl offensive lineman Rockne Freitas is usually the biggest guy in whatever room he occupies.<br />
At a commanding 6 feet, 6 inches and 270 pounds, former Pro Bowl offensive lineman Rockne Freitas is usually the biggest guy in whatever room he occupies. But these days he’s also the biggest one in a room in which he isn’t even present. That would be conference room 309 in Hawaii Hall on the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus, where the athletic director search advisory committee meets. And what to do about Freitas is one of the biggest issues the 14-member committee has to grapple with these days. On one hand Freitas, the UH vice president for student affairs and university/community relations and acting AD since July 11, is an avowed nonapplicant, having said he will not apply to become the permanent holder of the position. But, official candidate or not — and as of Monday afternoon UH had yet to advertise the position on its website — he is not somebody the committee can just ignore. Even if head football coach Norm Chow, a committee vice chairman, wasn’t bending ears and passionately proselytizing for Freitas. Chow, you may remember, circulated a letter that gathered the signatures of 16 head coaches and 18 assistants last month recommending “the immediate appointment” of Freitas. At its first meeting, the committee declined the “recommendation” and proceeded with the “national” search pledged by Manoa chancellor Tom Apple. They didn’t say they wouldn’t consider Freitas somewhere in the process, of course, only that they were punting on the immediate issue of his candidacy. And therein is the dilemma: If Freitas declines to apply, does the committee dare to move on without at least talking to him? Or, does it open up a special avenue for him still to be part of the process? The possibilities make for some interesting conversation this week as they reassemble to go about the process of choosing a successor for Jim Donovan. Dismissing Freitas altogether for not applying for the position would be to ignore his contributions to Mountain West membership, not to mention risking offending Chow, the source of the most positive news the campus has had in the past nine months. Giving Freitas a place among the finalists, meanwhile, invites more conspiracy theories. Which is precisely the kind of problem UH opened itself up for when it invited coaches to take part in the process of helping to select their future bosses. Perhaps UH should just be glad that the two other coaches on the committee, Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji and Wahine basketball coach Laura Beeman, aren’t aggressively pushing their own, rival candidates and inviting a real free-for-all in the meeting room. Lately there is a growing belief around campus that the committee might allow some of its number to “nominate” Freitas as a candidate, thereby bringing him into the thick of the conversation while bypassing the issue of an application. It would be almost unheard of at UH, but then never has it convened a committee with such a shadow cast over the room, either.
——— Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820. Login for more...