UH athletics aspires to be major player this year
This is the first of two parts
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
Fresh from a 9-3 football season, coming off the most successful men's basketball start in 30 years and looking ahead to the return of Lily Kahumoku in Wahine volleyball, there is barely tethered optimism surrounding University of Hawai'i athletics these days.
At a school that has had just one Top 20 finish in football (1992), head coach June Jones has talked of playing Florida, Southern California, etc. and making the Warriors a perennial "Top 20-type program."
In a sport where UH hasn't gone to an NCAA regional in eight seasons, new baseball coach Mike Trapasso has set his sights on building a program that is a regular participant.
At an institution that hasn't finished higher then 68th in Sears Cup competition in the past eight years, there is the challenge of trying to approach Stanford's across-the-board excellence.
Those kind of goals require a significant infusion of money, a 25-percent hike in the athletic department budget to $20 million just for starters, athletic director Hugh Yoshida says.
The school currently spends approximately $16 million on its 19-sport program. But all of the top-20 finishers in the most recent Sears Cup competition, which ranks schools on the strength of their finishes in 20 men's and women's sports, spent at least $20 million some double that.
Money is tangible reward
"Whether it is athletics or sociology, the only way you can tangibly give respect to people is not telling them you respect them, you have to pay them," Dobelle said. "Otherwise, it is just rhetoric."
For the past month UH has been negotiating a contract extension with Jones that is expected to rise well above the $320,000 plus incentives he currently receives. Perhaps into the $500,000 range.
Jones, who lost defensive coordinator Greg McMackin to Texas Tech and a $250,000 deal two years ago, is asking for raises that will allow him to keep his assistants, two of whom reportedly already receive six figure salaries.
Jones' wish list
Jones is reportedly also asking UH to build a FieldTurf practice field, take a closer look at charter flights, take over the operation of Aloha Stadium and make other commitments to having a competitive team.
And, that's just the beginning. Not far off is the day when UH will also have to ante up for a new athletic director. Estimates are it will cost upwards of $200,000 nearly twice what Yoshida is receiving.
UH men's basketball coach Riley Wallace, at a base salary of less than $120,000, is among the lowest-paid in the Western Athletic Conference and in line for a raise. Wallace turned 60 last year and sometime down the road when UH goes shopping for a replacement, the cost will likely be three times what he is making.
"If you're going to be a first-class athletic program, you've got to pay for it," said James Burns, head of Ahahui Koa Anuenue, the athletic booster organization. "Would you rather pay more for June Jones or (less) for the coach before (Fred vonAppen)?"
Tomorrow: Where UH will look first for financial help.