Tuesday, January 30, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Isle File
Students back Les Murakami Stadium

Advertiser Staff

The Associated Students of the University of Hawaii-Manoa passed a senate resolution to have Rainbow Stadium renamed after coach Les Murakami.

The organization is the governing body for UH-Manoa undergraduate students.

Murakami, who turned a club program in 1971 into a Division I power within a decade, said he would retire from coaching after this season. But he had a stroke Nov. 2 and has been rehabilitating since. Longtime assistant Carl Furutani is the acting head coach.

"I would answer the same way Les would," Murakami’s wife, Dot, said through UH spokesman Markus Owens. "It’s not that important. Period."

The low-keyed coach essentially had the same response when asked in past years about having the stadium named after him.

Still, only the UH Board of Regents has the authority for naming campus facilities. Normally, there is a five-year waiting period after a person’s death before that person’s name can be used for a facility. But there is a provision that allows for "appropriate circumstances" to have facilities named upon the approval of the UH president.

Meanwhile, Murakami has been undergoing physical therapy twice a day totaling about three hours, according to a UH press release. He will re-enter Queen’s Medical Center to replace the section of his skull that was removed during surgery to alleviate pressure to his brain. The procedure will happen within the next 10 days.


UH pitcher honored: University of Hawaii right-hander Sean Yamashita was named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week, the conference announced yesterday.

Yamashita pitched five hitless innings in a 5-1 win over Sacramento State on Friday. The only runner he allowed reached on an error. He struck out seven, but did not figure in the decision.

Nevada outfielder Chris Nickerson was named Player of the Week. He hit two home runs, including a grand slam, and had seven RBIs in a three-game series against Pacific.

Hawaii nominated designated hitter/second baseman Matthew Purtell for Player of the Week honors.

The Rainbows, who took two of three from Sacramento State, begin a three-game series against visiting UCLA on Thursday.


Wagner takes UTEP job: Bob Wagner said the visitors’ sideline at Aloha Stadium will take some getting used to when he returns Oct. 13 as the defensive coordinator of the Texas-El Paso football team.

"It will definitely be different; it’ll be interesting, that’s for sure," said Wagner, who coached for 19 years at Hawaii, including nine as head coach, and was named to the UTEP staff yesterday.

"I’m gonna want to win, but there won’t be any grudges or anything of that nature," said Wagner, who was fired after the 1995 season. "Hawaii has always been home and we always look forward to coming back."

UTEP head coach Gary Nord said Wagner was hired to "run an aggressive, attacking-style defense out of an eight-man front."

Wagner will inherit seven returning starters from a unit that was third in the Western Athletic Conference in total defense this past season and went to the Humanitarian Bowl.

"I was looking for someone who could bring maturity and experience to our staff and Bob has experience in the conference as a defensive coordinator and as a head coach," Nord said.

As head coach from 1987-95, Wagner led the Rainbows to their first two NCAA bowl games, the 1989 Aloha Bowl and 1992 Holiday Bowl. The Rainbows’ 11-2 record and Top 20 finish helped make 1992 their most successful season.

Wagner spent the last three years at Arizona, where he coached inside linebackers and coordinated special teams under head coach Dick Tomey. Tomey, another former UH head coach, resigned after a season-ending loss to Arizona State.

Ex-Warrior Owen to XFL: Choosing a life of grime, former University of Hawaii football player Dustin Owen has become a Hitman.

Owen, the center on the Warriors’ 1999 Oahu Bowl championship team, has made the opening day roster of the XFL’s New York/New Jersey Hitmen. The Hitmen open their season against Las Vegas Saturday in a nationally televised game.

The XFL, run by NBC-TV and World Wrestling Federation head Vince McMahon, prohibits such safety measures as fair catches.

"It’s awesome," Owen said of the rules. "It’s faster. It’s fun. ... And it makes the players a little tougher."

The 6-foot-3, 325-pound Owen was a key blocker in the Warriors’ drive for a Western Athletic Conference co-championship in 1999.

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