POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 20, 2010
When the University of Hawaii approached the Mountain West Conference 12 years ago about membership, the promise of $500,000 in travel subsidies wasn't enough to help gain admittance.
Which brings up the question of how much UH might have to ante up to close the deal on negotiations under way with the MWC now.
Travel subsidies is one of the major items to be negotiated in both the MWC for football and Big West for most other sports. But UH officials and MWC officials have declined to say how much those subsidies might be.
"Jim (Donovan) is putting together some numbers for us," said Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell.
UH currently does not subsidize travel for fellow Western Athletic Conference members, though previously, it has subsidized travel costs in the WAC and Big West. Apparently open to negotiation with the MWC and Big West is whether the subsidies will involve airfare only or might also include hotel and other expenses.
The last time UH subsidized an opponent's football travel, it spent $113,730 to bring College of Charleston here in September for a nonconference game, under terms of the contract. That included $83,475 for airfare, $21,385 for hotel rooms and $8,870 for ground transportation. UH underwrote 45 rooms for three nights and plane fare for 75 members of the travel party.
Although Charleston came from the East Coast, the Buccaneers, a Division I-AA team, had a smaller travel squad than a I-A Mountain West team might require. UH spent more than $100,000 on the airfare alone for Southern California in the season opener.
Meanwhile, governor-elect Neil Abercrombie, who has talked with UH officials on the subject, said yesterday, "travel costs are always an issue -- and they need to be addressed. I will follow through with (UH president and athletic director) M.R.C Greenwood and Jim Donovan."
Abercrombie said, "As governor, I will work with them to support a Division I athletic program and the pride that such a program brings not only to the university but to all residents of Hawaii."
During the campaign, Abercrombie told the Star-Advertiser editorial board, "OK, if we're going to be Division I and the conferences are not necessarily going to welcome us unless we can solve some of the travel questions, well, that's a money question. So if that is what it is, you can always solve a money question. You can always address that."