comscore Athletic committee may be 'downgraded' in restructure | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Ferd's Words

Athletic committee may be ‘downgraded’ in restructure

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now

Two years ago the University of Hawaii Board of Regents came up with what was generally acknowledged as a beneficial, long-overdue idea: a committee specifically to oversee its athletics.

In the wake of the Wonder Blunder, financial struggles, coaching contract buyouts, etc. and after much study, the board created the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics to do it.

Now, the board isn’t so sure about the whole idea.

Thursday it is scheduled to vote on a proposed amendment that would "reclassify" (read: downgrade) the committee to a "task group."

The proposed change is purportedly part of an overall restructuring, definitely not because things have suddenly turned so rosy as to render oversight of Manoa and UH-Hilo no longer necessary.

The deficit continues to mount while a broken, out-dated economic model remains unaddressed; the NCAA has yet to rule on alleged infractions in the men’s basketball program and there remains the issue of ex-basketball coach Gib Arnold’s court case and pending grievance. (Are we forgetting anything?).

In fact, the issues confronting athletics have been of such concern that, at a retreat earlier this year, the board voted it as a priority area for a so-called "deep dive" — chairman Randy Moore’s term for an extensive look.

That is due next month and nobody thinks that one meeting devoted to athletics will come close to solving the issues at hand, much less giving direction for the future.

In Manoa day-to-day operation of athletics is overseen by an energetic athletic director, David Matlin. But he is a first-time AD and has been on the job barely three months. He reports to Manoa Chancellor, Robert Bley-Vroman, who dove in to the task head first, but arrived without a background with athletics and has been on the job for less than a year.

When Regents voted to establish the committee it was after an extensive review. The minutes of the May 16, 2013 meeting also noted, "the Association of Governing Boards recommends having a committee with a defined role of looking at intercollegiate athletics." It added, "the new committee will also be an improvement to the board’s structure regarding oversight of intercollegiate athletics."

It came on the heels of a Knight Commission report ("Restoring the Balance: Dollars, Values and the Future of College Sports") that urged universities to bring athletics under closer scrutiny amid a series of national scandals.

Athletics, rightly or wrongly, brings UH a lot of attention and has been described by former presidents as the very public "front porch" of the university. It is an enterprise of upwards of $32 million with the power to heavily contribute — or in times of $15 million accumulated net bail-outs — take away from its campus.

Task groups can be useful, of course. But when it comes to athletics at UH, history tells us they are too often called into action only after something has already gone wrong.

Is this really the time to pull back the watchdog?

Reach Ferd Lewis at or 529-4820.

Comments have been disabled for this story...

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up