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Money woes for Hawaii’s athletics continue into new year

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    Gov. David Ige.


    UH men’s basketball coach Eran Ganot.


    A view of Aloha Stadium in Halawa.


    UH Athletic Director David Matlin.

Financial questions on the Hawaii sports scene have never been more relevant than on the first day of 2016. The University of Hawaii athletic program continues to operate with a multi-million dollar deficit but promises frugality, as it transitions with a new athletic director and football and men’s basketball coaches headed into their first full calendar year.

Money ball also will continue to be the biggest concern for just about all of the state’s other athletic ventures, from operating youth and high school sports to attracting and continuing to host sports tourism events like the NFL’s Pro Bowl and the PGA’s Sony Open. There are rumblings of a big rumble, as the fervor of Hawaii’s MMA fans and campaigning by contender Max Holloway from Waianae has UFC president Dana White considering a card here this summer.

And what about facilities? Gov. David Ige is content to kick the stadium conundrum down the road again this year as governors have before him, not daring to run with that political football.

The same can be said for UH athletics. Ige and others who depend on votes for their jobs rank public funding of college sports a low priority. With autonomy in play, sports is supposed to get its money from the university’s cut. But upper campus has its priorities, too, and another athletics bailout is not among them.

So, the new AD, David Matlin, must rebuild public confidence with a limited budget. While the selection of Nick Rolovich as head football coach might be the best bang for the buck, June Jones supporters say bringing back the program’s winningest coach would’ve filled seats and attracted sponsors.

That is debatable, but this is not: A UH sports financial recovery requires a losing football program to turn the corner on the playing field and then at the turnstiles. It won’t happen in the opposite order.

2. Stay down or fight back

By Wednesday, UH must inform the NCAA if it will appeal sanctions stemming from its investigation of the Rainbows basketball program. If it does not appeal and next year’s postseason ban stands, players — including four solid contributors who will be seniors next year — can transfer without sitting out a year.

Hawaii is 10-2 under new coach Eran Ganot and considered a contender for the Big West championship this spring. But next fall could be bleak if the strong junior core moves on.

3. Will Gaison impact preps?

As Blane Gaison settles in as the Interscholastic League of Honolulu’s new executive director are significant changes afoot on the high school sports scene?

He’s an experienced and respected leader. We’ll see if he can work with his public school leagues counterparts to make progress on issues like competitive balance, recruiting and officiating. … and, of course, finances.

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  • The $$$ woes of the UHM athletic department are not the governor’s concerns as implied by the lead photo. UHM must fix it’s own problems. If the community is not willing to step up to support the programs the message is clearly that it’s not up to the taxpayers of the state to fix the problem.

  • David, you have said it quite clearly. Upper campus has other priorities!!!! Since I have lived here the upper campus has never shown a strong interest in having an athletic program. The school doesn’t want the program, the legislature does not want the program, the tourism agency does not want the program, except they all like to take credit when athletic teams do well. With support like that, what is the point in having a university Div ! athletic program. If the major entities in the state do not support it Why should I? Makes no sense!

    • agree and I have said the same thing for several years. UH’s mission is not athletics for the public. We are an academic institution that is a driver of the economy here. Athletics must be self-funding or it needs to be dropped. Please read the founding charter of the UH. Nothing in there about athletic entertainment for the public.

      • Sad to say UH Manoa is not a driver of the economy. It is a financial black hole sucking in more and more money and returning very little back to taxpayers. Another Nei money pit. Way too many multi hundred thousand dollar payoff settlements thanks to utterly incompetent UH bureaucrats who could not write a safe contract if their life depended on it. Yet they feel justified to ask for yearly pay raises and performance bonuses.

        UH Manoa has always either been rated very low or not at all when compared to other educational institutions. Kiplinger just published their 100 Best College Values, naturally UH Manoa is not listed. Just another of hundreds of daily example of UH management failing to raise UH to a higher level.

        We could do better by eliminating UH Manoa and contracting with one of the 100 Best Public Value institutions. Finally having professional management at UH Manoa. All current management bureaucrats will be let go to go find a job they can do. Anything not in education.

        Throwing money at UH Manoa is the perfect definition of insanity. Expecting it to change for the better. Not going to happen.

        • There are 4 tiers in the national research university category and UH is listed in the 3rd tier. I know. It needs to be better. But UH cannot improve until it is adequately resourced and yes, blessed with better governance and management. That has been true for many years.

        • UH is never going to be adequately resourced when you have utterly incompetent management. Going from one financial debacle to another to another. When is this madness going to end?

          How much money has been wasted on legal settlements? How much due to management incompetence? Until those in charge realize they are the problem, resign, bring in fresh, competent management, taxpayers are not going to waste more money on a loser institution.

          Sad to say the very few and far between UH Manoa success stories have been buried by the continuing and growing string of management debacles. When is enough enough?

        • Hey Allie! Good to see you back! I thought they, SA, had censored all of us commenters from their new website! Totally agree with localguy! Need to get rid of all the UH management! Presidents, Chancellors, VCs and especially the staff in those offices in Hawaii Hall that promote corruption! It is time even for private schools like HPU, to do their due diligence!Education and social values taught by example at UH are a disaster! Clean house in more senses than one!

        • I am a volleyball player. All County, North Dakota. 🙂 But that was in middle school and high school. I came here to study and learn from a foreign culture. I appreciate all that the UH did for me. One more semester to go.

        • Management always cuts from the bottom, first, and sometimes, only. Never cuts from the top rank.

    • kkv smartest post I have read on here in years. You are absolutely right. We don’t HAVE to have these sports, especially if they are horrible, and we need to spend endlessly to keep up with the competition. Just say we ain’t going play that money game anymore. Not when we need a half billion in facility maintenance at UH.
      Just run a basketball, baseball and volleyball. Gender equity much easier achieved when there is no football team.

      • College football has the potential to make a lot of money but also lose a lot of money for a university. I would agree with you that if Rolo fails and struggles like Chow, UH should shut down football and just run basketball, baseball and INDOOR volleyball only. UH can financially survive as string of failed football coaches and their programs.

        PS. It would be a waste of time for UH to appeal the NCAA ruling on the basketball program. The actual violations themselves were not that bad but the LYING by Fib Arnold and other UH staffers to NCAA investigators will NOT garner sympathy in any appeals board, the American judiciary system or the court of public opinion. The Punaho mafia outdid themselves with Fib and Chow and the consequence to at least a partial end to UH atheletics will be their legacy.

        • Correction: ‘UH cannot survive a string of failed football coaches and their programs’

    • CriticalReader’s is the most obvious solution. Why should the education part of UH support the athletic part, at such a high cost to education? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

      Having attended a Grandson’s commencement in December I was amazed to see the excellent facilities that are now in the lower part of the campus. Maintenance there is also excellent. Not so on the upper campus. Why is that?

    • Living within or beneath your means is utterly impossible when you have to deal with unions. There is never enough money for them. Always wanting more and more and more.

      Ending tenure and pensions, ending paid sabbaticals, going with Roth 401ks for retirement would be a great way to lower the operational costs of UH.

      Sad to say this will never happen. The UH money pit will continue to grow while quality declines.

      • Or you could get rid of some of those high paid administrators and their junkets to Japanese universities, with their Chinese mistresses now at HPU! Donna Kim has gone somewhere God knows where, so time for Isaac Choy to step in and clean house at Higher Ed institutions

      • Hiring high school kids to do the job is even more costly when it has to be re done over and over again. Hire a union pro and do it just once.

        • Lassner, Vrey Froman, Carbone, Greenwood, Dobelle, Hinshaw, Frasier, Bj, etc. etc are all ‘high school’ level administrstors that messed up and everything had to be ‘redone’ anyway. Also got this bad feeling Maitlin’s choice of Rolo and NOT JJ with Rolo and Miano as assistants might be an improvement of se wer level chow but any turn around will take many, many years, time which UH athletics does NOT have.

  • Took tooo looong to get rid of a lame duck coach “Chow”. Winning season gets you attendance and even a bowl bid where the money is. Losing season’s and keeping the losing coach will never get you good recruitment, thus no good players, no winning team, no bowl bid. Who wants to play for a losing team and lame duck coach.

  • David Ige is no friend of UH Athletics so therefore is no friend of mine. I’m sure there are thousands of UH fans that feel the same. Never has there been a governor who refused to help UH Athletics in any way. He will not get our vote next time around. A one term governor.

    • Yes Ige he has his reasons but yes he is the Anti-John Burns guy. What about a state lottery with profits going toward UH athletics? Allow offshore gambling on cruise ships in Hawaiian waters. Legalize marijuana and make Hawaii a Napa Valley type destination which could only improve our tourist numbers. There’s many thing that can be tried besides just taxing people, but Ige needs to get his hands in there and do something. Right now just doing nothing.

      • UH gets a bunch of money and upper campus throws it away. Too many higher ups in Bachman Hall collecting a pay check. Mia managed construction projects on upper and lower campus. The cancer center is another money out mis managed. The cancer center should be operated by a medical center like Queens which has an affiliation with the MD ANDERSON cancer center in Texas. Incompetently rules at UH. Ige has no business being governor. He will not have my vote next time around.

        • What a ridiculous comment. With your logic why stop at $250. Make it $2,500. Sent them all of your entertainment bills, too.

  • Why does higher education cost so much in the United States? The main reason is the student loans that are being pushed to the many who does not have the money to pay. Take away the student loans and many schools will lower their tuition and decrease their payroll and unnecessary fat support that is going on. Higher education will be affordable again. Back in the 50’s to 70’s students could work part time to pay their tuition if their parents could not afford the total tuition.

  • Large part of money woes for UH athletics had a name – Norm Chow. The fact is Ben Jay, Tom Apple, SA typists, and many others refused to recognize the problem at least couple of years ago when removal of NC would have stemmed the losses and stabilized the revenues and actually increased it (even with $1.4 mil. buyout of Chow). SA isn’t reporting anything new, their ability to be in front of the news is nil, especially the sports section guys, with Tsai being the absolute worst.

  • Small minded. UH Athletics, in particular football, could be a major financial driver for the university. It requires investment though, and at one point there was a window that investment would have bread progress and growth. Now investments are only going into trying to dig out of a black hole created by years and years of poor leadership and terrible decision making.

    UH’s own research has demonstrated that when the football team is successful, applications go up. It is the national face of the university, and athletics are an important part of university culture and education. As college graduate and ex-college athlete, I learned more outside of the classroom in college than in the classroom. Leadership skills, decision making, collaborating, business focused skill sets all came from clubs, athletics, and non classroom interactions.

    Get athletics and football moving correctly, make it a positive face of the university, and use the income from it to fix and broaden the resources for the university.

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