Ferd's Words Eh, UH. You got good value for your coach. Why hide it? By Ferd Lewis Jan. 5, 2012 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. After years of massively overpaying for a head football coach, you’d think the University of Hawaii would be thrilled to let taxpayers know that some fiscal sanity has prevailed. After paying Greg McMackin $1.1 million a year for four seasons — and publicly disclosing that it had — you might imagine UH would want to inform the public that it had landed much-celebrated Norm Chow at half that amount. But you would be wrong. When a handful of local news organizations, including the Star-Advertiser, filed requests for Chow’s contract under the state’s open records law, the 17-page agreement came back with a thick black line redacting the annual salary. In the margin was typed $392,142 to $935,544, the scale for the position. The actual figure, people around Chow and UH will tell you, is $550,000 a year. So, this isn’t so much about what Chow gets paid — an honest and realistic wage given the Warriors’ means — as much as it is another example of how UH does business and the lengths it will sometimes go to obfuscate. Earlier, one of Chow’s people had said they didn’t have a problem with the media learning the salary amount because, “as a public university UH is going to announce it anyway.” Welcome to UH, the public university with a bureaucracy that tends to think it is something else. Other public institutions disclose the figures either when the football or basketball coach is hired or when somebody requests the information. Check out the annual USA Today listing of such salaries. UH will release figures for well-paid professors, researchers, deans, vice presidents and the president. But when two of the four highest-paid UH employees are coaches, well, the cone of silence descends. Curiously, too, since nearly eight years ago, when UH attempted to deny the release of then-head coach June Jones’ salary, the state’s Office of Information Practices slapped the school around and declared, “We find that the public’s interest in the contract outweighs Coach Jones’ privacy interests and that, based upon the information provided to us by UH, disclosure of the contract will not reasonably frustrate the athletic department’s ability to operate. For those reasons, the contract, in its entirety, should be disclosed.” Still, the foot dragging persists. More than once such hard-headedness has come back to haunt UH. Most recently UH sat on the agreement with men’s basketball coach Gib Arnold for a year. That paperwork languished in the black hole so long that when UH finally got around to dealing with it, Arnold had a 19-13 record and considerable leverage. It was a situation that cost the school $100,000 more than it should have. After that mess you might think the school would welcome an opportunity to be open and transparent. But this is UH and you’d be wrong. Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820. Previous Story Law reaches milestone with dedication, passion Next Story Will Warriors find luck in adding a 13th game?