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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 13, 2001

UH assistant atheletic directors placed on notice

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Three high-ranking athletic department officials yesterday were among 205 non-union University of Hawai'i employees who received one-year notices that they might be fired or reassigned.

The notices are considered pro forma, and UH president Evan Dobelle emphasized, "These letters are not pink slips," although they provide the university with legal ammunition to eventually release a non-union employee.

Dobelle said the notification, mandated by the Board of Regents, "gives me the flexibility to restructure and realign personnel."

Associate athletic director Jim Donovan and assistant athletic directors Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano and Teri Wilhelm Chang received letters yesterday. According to the letter, which goes into effect Monday, unless otherwise contacted or consulted, their termination date is set for Dec. 16, 2002.

UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida, along with eight other administrators, did not receive a letter because he is under contract. Yoshida's contract expires in December 2002.

Dobelle said the recipients "have no reason to be concerned if they are prepared to reach for excellence. No reason at all."

The next Manoa chancellor — Deane Neubauer is the interim chancellor — will evaluate the managers, Dobelle said. The result might be reorganization, normal attrition, contract renegotiation, early retirement or job elimination, Dobelle said.

Dobelle said he was hired as a "change agent, which I've been successfully able to do" in previous jobs.

Under Board of Regents policy, Dobelle said, most non-union managers must receive one-year notification before being replaced.

"If I decide in six months that someone is in an improper position, I would have to wait another year to make a move," he said. "You can't be effective unless you prepare. I don't like doing these things. I don't have a choice."

He said he has used this strategy four times and "twice restructuring didn't result in loss of jobs."

Dobelle said the university must deal with the question: "What is your plan?"

"Right now, we don't have a plan," he said.

Yesterday, he met with 15 of UH's 17 head coaches (football coach June Jones was returning from the Mainland and Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji was on a recruiting trip). But Jones said he already has had several meetings with Dobelle.

During yesterday's meeting, these points were addressed:

  • Conference affiliation. Many favored applying for the Mountain West Conference, which was created by the eight teams that seceded from UH's Western Athletic Conference in 1999. The Mountain West has a moratorium on expansion for another five years.
  • Community colleges. It was agreed that the UH's community colleges should explore the possibility of competing in intercollegiate sports. Dobelle said such a goal is possible within a few years. "Why can't they play in their own league?" he said.
  • UH-Hilo. The coaches believe it would be beneficial if the Vulcans sought Division I status in all of their sports.

While Dobelle said he favors leveling the playing field against conference opponents, "we are not going to lower our standards to become more competitive. The last thing I'm going to do is dumb down Manoa. I'm just not going to do that."

Said softball coach Bob Coolen: "He is taking the bull by the horns, that's for sure. He really listens, and he has his opinion on a lot of things. If the No. 1 person will listen, hopefully action will follow."