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Arnold’s contract ordeal points to problems at UH


The University of Hawaii should be embarrassed. Apparently dots for the i’s and crosses for the t’s are in such short supply on campus that there aren’t enough to complete contracts for UH coaches in a timely manner.

Nobody in human resources or the chancellor’s office or the athletic department or wherever the bottleneck is thinks to borrow some from the English or linguistics departments. Maybe they’re a special kind only available from the mainland, kind of like the baseball stadium lights that are finally being replaced after months of Rainbows outfielders wandering around in partial darkness.

And by timely, we’re not talking weeks within the coaches’ date of hire — we’re talking months. We’re told part of the problem is that coaches exist in some bizarre category between labor and management, and there must be the proper level of agonizing over split infinitives and comma splices to ensure the rights of these six-figure-salaried union brothers and sisters.

Not sure how much of that I find necessary. Actually, I am sure. Zero. Head coaches, union members? Ridiculous. I mean, most of these guys would go for a 40-hour work day if they could.

The good news for UH basketball coach Gib Arnold is that this contract fiasco put him in only the second silliest situation for a former Punahou hoopster this week. This, however, isn’t about Arnold’s birthplace, but rather his workplace and how much he’ll be compensated and how long he’ll remain at it.

IT’S REALLY NOT that complicated when you boil away the moot points of the boilerplate language in the — until recently — unexecuted part of the contract. The meat of the deal was done long ago. Arnold and UH actually signed the part including his three years at $240,000 per for base salary and other elements of compensation before the press conference officially announced his hiring, more than a year ago.

Conspiracy theorists contend the UH athletic department may have had something to gain by leaving the contract-in-full unexecuted — namely, it could let Arnold go if he had a poor first season. Really? What sense would that make? No one gets fired after one year unless they run afoul of the personal morals clause — something I seriously doubt you have to worry about with Arnold. Oh, by the way, the morals clause is in the part of the contract that was unexecuted.

Riley Wallace’s first team won just four games, and he ended up with a 20-year run.

THIS IS ALL about a guy having a good year and rightfully asking for a raise and he and his boss negotiating how much. This would have happened regardless of the ridiculousness of the unexecuted contract (which is just one of many UH coaches’ pacts that floated around in limbo for months).

Arnold certainly deserves a bump after exceeding all expectations, most of which had the Rainbow Warriors finishing in the WAC cellar once again. Instead, Arnold led UH to a winning record and two postseason games. But let’s be real: Most of those 19 wins were against WAC and lower level opponents, and the postseason appearance was facilitated by Wallace’s position with the tourney.

Another program with deep pockets might lure Arnold away, although that seems unlikely until after next season at the earliest.

I believe Arnold is the kind of coach who could someday take UH basketball to a happy place where he deserves something closer to Mack Money than what he’s getting now. Yeah, high six figures if he consistently gets his team into the NCAA Tournament and wins some games there. Hopefully for UH, if that time comes it can afford him.

The unexecuted contract is a shameful joke and recurring nightmare that reflects poorly on the university’s efficiency. But it should have no bearing either way on the amount of Gib Arnold’s raise after a fine start to his Division I head coaching career.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at, his “Quick Reads” blog at and
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