Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, August 13, 2001

UH must aim high — off field and on

Among the many tough jobs of the college head football coach is recruiting. One of the things that makes recruiting tough is the unevenness of recruiting standards among schools.

Case in point, reports Advertiser sports writer Stephen Tsai, is Deonce Whitaker, a running back who was fourth in the nation with 1,577 rushing yards last year. Whitaker earned an extra season when he received a bachelor's degree — a requirement for a student-athlete who entered an NCAA school as a "non-qualifier."

Whitaker, Tsai points out, doesn't play for the University of Hawai'i Warrior football team. His high school grades and test scores were so low that UH wouldn't have attempted to recruit him.

Instead, he went to San Jose State, where last year he gained 278 yards against UH.

UH coach June Jones is properly philosophical about it. It would make his job easier if there were a "level playing field" in recruiting, but "it's something I have to live with."

Of course, there never will be a level playing field for academic selectivity at American universities, nor should there be. Each university should, as the Army used to put it, "be all that it can be."

In Hawai'i, of course, any high school graduate can be admitted to the UH system, but the campus at Manoa, the flagship school, is competitive. That's the way it should be.

And the athletes must keep pace. (At UH, by and large, they do. Their graduation rate, for instance, exceeds the campus average.) Allowing a separate academic underclass of "jocks" is demeaning for the athletes and divisive for the campus.

Presumably schools like San Jose State perform a valuable service, educating athletes who don't have the high school background to make it at more selective schools. That's good.

If UH's new president, Evan Dobelle, has his way, one of these days Jones may find himself recruiting in the Pac 10, against the likes of Stanford and Cal-Berkeley. What's amazing about those schools is that their teams of scholar-athletes kick butt on the playing field and then pick up Phi Beta Kappa keys.

Winning on the field, succeeding academically — now, that's a win-win situation.