Ferd's Words Shoji might not be ready to walk away after all By Ferd Lewis July 5, 2014 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! STAR-ADVERTISER / 2013Dave Shoji: Begins his 40th season next month. 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. When Rainbow Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji signed his latest deal in 2008, there was little fanfare over what became the longest contract — six years, eight months — in University of Hawaii athletic history. The arrangement was calculated to take Shoji through his 40th season at the school and was unique in its terms and timetable, befitting the school’s most accomplished coach. In exchange for Shoji foregoing some common bonus opportunities, the Board of Regents agreed to an adjusted annual base salary ($179,328) that was approximately 25 percent beyond the maximum established range in order to set up his "high three" retirement for 2015. "But," said a UH administrator at the time, "that’s still a long time off." Now, as Shoji’s 40th season approaches and his current contractual conclusion is less than eight months away, it is still the end of an era — whenever it might come — that few want to contemplate, even as the celebration of his milestone season and overall body of work has begun. Fans are snapping up the Shoji 40th anniversary season T-shirts that feature his smiling face on the front and a partial list of accomplishments on the back. More than 100 were sold in the first three days of the athletic department’s new "H-Zone" operation. Officials said a Shoji autograph session is being planned. And a book on Shoji, written by former Honolulu Star-Advertiser volleyball writer Ann Miller, who chronicled the Rainbow Wahine for more than 30 years, is on the way. Meanwhile, the "r-word" is being judiciously avoided by all parties. Athletic director Ben Jay, adopting the posture of some of his predecessors on Shoji’s retirement, said, he hasn’t broached the subject of "when" with women’s volleyball’s winningest coach (1,129-190-1). Or even asked for a heads-up. On top of financial struggles and an NCAA investigation, Jay clearly does not need the headache of trying to choose a successor to the man who helped put four national championship banners in the rafters of the Stan Sheriff Center. "I’ve always said to Dave, ‘You let me know when the time has come. We’re just glad to have you,’ " Jay said. "I’ve left it completely up to him. He’ll tell me whether he is ready to go on to another one or not." Shoji maintains "I’ve not made any decision yet" and says it is a conversation with Jay he does not plan on having for a while, perhaps until sometime after his 68th birthday in December. Shoji declared his intention to return for 2014 in a Dec. 28, 2013 posting while on vacation in Europe. This time, Shoji said, "There’s no timetable. I’ll probably wait until after the season to see how things went and how I feel about it." Ultimately, "it will be a gut feeling," Shoji said. "Obviously, it will depend on how the season goes, how we look for the future and how I feel about all that." In the meantime, expect the celebration of the 40th season to kick up with the knowledge there may not be a 41st. Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com or 529-4820. Previous Story Shinsato didn’t always love judo, but it grew with her Next Story Hasn’t Cleveland suffered enough?