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UH gets $1.7 million from WAC

By Ferd Lewis

LAST UPDATED: 5:20 a.m. HST, Jun 24, 2011

The University of Hawaii will receive one of its largest — and last — annual Western Athletic Conference checks today, $1,710,302, the conference said.

But the joy of what it might mean for the fiscal year that closes Thursday will be tempered by the realization of what UH will forfeit in 2012.

The check UH is due to receive today is second only to the $4.92 million it earned in 2008 following the Bowl Championship Series Sugar Bowl appearance. It might help the athletic department finish in the black for the second time in a decade. But it is estimated to be about $1 million more than what the school can expect June 30, 2012, when UH forfeits most of its earnings as a penalty for departing the WAC.

The WAC is distributing approximately $12 million pooled from ESPN rights payments, NCAA basketball shares, the conference basketball tournament, bowl receipts and other conference revenue.

Of the money UH receives today, $137,256 is its share of what Boise State leaves on the table from its July 1, 2011, departure for the Mountain West Conference. The WAC Board of Directors voted last week to divide the Broncos' $1.09 million share among the eight remaining members.

Next year UH, Fresno State and Nevada also will forfeit their shares from the conference pool for going to the MWC.

UH would receive a bowl stipend if it appears in the postseason and some other income, but it will be excluded from most of the major revenue sources, the WAC said. Actual bowl revenue, after expenses, is often less than $10,000 except in BCS appearances.

"There's no question that when we made the announcement to go to the MWC there were going to be some costs incurred," UH athletic director Jim Donovan said. "This is an opportunity cost because it was definitely a known part of the equation that we were going to have to forego our revenue from the WAC in the last year. And, then, we have the known cost for beyond, when we are going to have to pay the travel subsidies."

As part of its agreements to join the MWC and Big West in 2012, UH will underwrite conference opponent travel, an estimated $1.2 million annual expense.

"Assuming that we are in the black this year, it is going to be a challenge over the next couple of years, but our goal is to continue to have a balanced budget and pay down the accumulated (net) deficit," Donovan said. "It is just that the loss of WAC revenue and travel subsidies the following year — and beyond — is going to have to be covered, so it will be somewhat challenging in the near term. But in the long term that challenge should evaporate," Donovan said.

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