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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 27, 2001

2002 Yoshida's final year?

By Stephen Tsai and Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writers

University of Hawai'i athletic director Hugh Yoshida told The Advertiser he does not expect to serve much past the end of his current contract, which expires in December 2002.

Hugh Yoshida has received outstanding evaluations.

Advertiser library photo • 1998

The 61-year-old Yoshida, who will be the school's longest-serving Division I-A athletic director at that time, said he will "make an assessment" of his future plans after meeting with incoming UH president Evan Dobelle. Dobelle takes over the UH presidency on Saturday.

"At this stage, when you look at our program, I feel fairly good about where we're at," Yoshida said. But, he added, "the business is getting a helluva lot tougher."

Yoshida, who succeeded the late Stan Sheriff in 1993, recently received an "outstanding" rating in his evaluation from UH president Kenneth Mortimer.

Yoshida oversees the state's only Division I-A athletic program, running 19 intercollegiate sports on an annual budget of approximately $16 million.

"I believe he has been an excellent athletic director," said Mortimer, noting only 25 percent of the school's administrators receive the highest of the three-tier ratings. "The evidence of that is where we (stood) six or seven years ago and where we are now. We went through a situation where we cut (the athletic department's) general fund budget by probably 50 percent" — to $900,000 annually — and "it was one of the bigger cuts" in the system.

"They have been able to handle that and expand their sports program to move on the plan for gender equity and running competitive programs, and I think there is a lot to be said in terms of what Hugh has been able to do."

During Yoshida's tenure, three women's sports have been added, and the department's overall operating budget has nearly doubled from $8.7 million in fiscal year 1993. Yoshida helped negotiate lucrative television and radio contracts, and lure coach June Jones from the National Football League. He said UH met the five-year plan set in 1996.

Mortimer acknowledged that Yoshida's administration has, at times, been controversial.

"He takes as much criticism from around the state as I do," Mortimer said. "Some people want to concentrate on whether the scoreboard works on a given day. It begs the issue for us: Is the athletic program pointed in the right direction?" Mortimer said.

"The answer for us is, 'Yes.'"

Mortimer said yesterday that Yoshida was the lowest-paid athletic director in the Western Athletic Conference in 1997. Now, even at $125,000 annually, Yoshida's salary is near the bottom in the 10-school conference.

Yoshida has more than 30 years in the state retirement system between his service at UH, where he previously served as an associate and assistant athletic director for three years, and 20 years in the Department of Education.