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Budget shortfall could sack UH football, Jay says

    Hawaii running back Diocemy Saint Juste catches a ball during morning football practice on Saturday

Athletic director Ben Jay today asked University of Hawaii officials to help lobby the state for $3 million to help keep the financially-challenged athletic program competitive or it may have to consider a reduction in sports, including football.

“There is a very real possibility of football going away,” Jay said under questioning by members of the Board of Regents Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics.

But, he cautioned, “but even if football goes away, all the revenues that football drives goes away and then it becomes a costlier venture for the university.”

Jay said cutting any sport was a “back pocket” possibility.

“I think, in my mind, it has to come from the state. In part, I’m asking this board, President (David Lassner) and the UH-Manoa leadership to support and ask the legislature for direct for direct funding support for the athletic program,” Jay said.

Jay said UH closed the just-completed fiscal year with a $2.1 million deficit and projects at least a $1.5 million deficit for the current fiscal years that ends June 30, 2015.

Jay said that was based upon “optimistic” figures and could go as high as “$2.5 million to $3 million.”

Jay told the regents, “It is our goal to try and get out of this,” but said the fiscal model UH has been operating on “is broken.”

He said athletics has run at a deficit for 11 of the last 13 years.

“Not been a matter of spending, it has really been a matter of not achieving enough revenue to support ourselves, ” Jay said. “What we have now is a bare bones operating budget that is limping along and has hurt our competitiveness and our ability to recruit and people want us to win. It raises, I think the entire state, by what we do. And, I think we are worthy of the investment.”

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