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Ferd's Words

After nearly a year on the job, Arnold’s contract in black hole

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After the debacle with June Jones’ contract, you would hope the University of Hawaii would be very proactive — and protective — about securing the services of its coaches.

But, you might be disappointed.

At least in the case of men’s basketball coach Gib Arnold, who, after almost a year on the job, apparently still does not have what UH has describes as a "fully executed" contract.

Arnold took over March 19, 2010, and, as the Rainbow Warriors open Postseason Tournament play tonight, he still has only a three-quarter page "major terms for agreement" and bonus schedule from UH to show for it.

In other words, it is anybody’s guess whether UH could keep him around if somebody showed up offering a more lucrative situation.

Let’s be clear here: Arnold has not campaigned for anything, isn’t seeking to leverage UH and is focusing his energies on winning the ‘Bows’ first postseason game in seven seasons.

But questions about his contract have been floating around UH and yesterday an official acknowledged, "I don’t know where it (the contract) is, but I think it is progressing."

Michael Nauyokas, a Honolulu attorney specializing in employment law, said "I would say it is very rare…" not to have a completed contract at this date.

When Arnold was asked three weeks ago about the circuitous route of his contract, he said he was looking forward to signing it but didn’t know where it stood. The last word, he said, came from a chance meeting at a high school where a fan introduced himself as a UH staffer and claimed he was working on the contract.

You hope UH doesn’t come to regret the molasses-like pace here the way it did when Jones bolted to Southern Methodist three years ago. Back then there was so much lollygagging over a renewal that then-athletic director Herman Frazier paid for it with his job and UH President David McClain apologized for the lack of oversight.

In Arnold’s case, we are told, the quagmire is not in the athletic department. But somewhere on campus there is a black hole where contracts can disappear for more than a year. Witness Rainbow Wahine basketball coach Dana Takahara-Dias’ deal, which took 18 months to become fully executed, according to UH.

In Arnold’s case, word is that some level of the vast UH bureaucracy is seeking to establish a boilerplate for future coaches’ contracts and, until that is worked out, Arnold’s contract may continue to languish.

Arnold has been extremely patient, has shown every intention of finishing what he started at UH and isn’t known to be doing any looking. But what if, amid the annual postseason coaching merry-go-around of firings and hirings, somebody made an offer that significantly topped his $240,000 UH salary?

Something that he, as a father of five who took a hit on his Los Angeles-area home to come here, would have to seriously consider.

Nauyokas said if he were Arnold he might, "take the (more lucrative) job that I got offered and then see what happens."

We’d say it is something to ponder except that UH has been sitting on this one long enough.

Reach Ferd Lewis at

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