UH may request change in WAC eligibility rule
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
Concerned that it might not be able to certify all its football players in time for the Hawai'i Bowl this year, the University of Hawai'i said it may have to ask the Western Athletic Conference to waive a new eligibility requirement.
Under the five-month-old rule, conference members must certify that their players have passed a minimum of six credit hours in the previous semester to be eligible for post-season participation.
But since UH fall semester final exams end Dec. 20th, school officials say the period between the posting of the grades and Christmas Eve may not leave enough time to certify all 100-plus players for the Dec. 25 game.
WAC officials said conference members have different final exam dates and the Hawai'i Bowl is the earliest of the three bowl games the WAC has contracted to put teams in.
"It may not be humanly possible to achieve it in time for this year's game," said Herman Frazier, UH athletic director. Frazier said UH is "putting a proposal together" to ask the WAC for relief.
Because the policy was set by the WAC presidents, any exception would have to be approved by the WAC Council and the Board of Directors.
"It isn't anybody's fault; it is a timing issue and we will certainly do what we can to work with UH," said Karl Benson, WAC commissioner.
Several high-profile cases nationally of players participating in post-season events who were determined to not have attended any classes prompted the NCAA to enact the six-credit rule for the 2003-2004 academic year.
But several conferences, including the WAC, Big 12 and Southeastern Conference, have already adopted the rule on their own, according to Patrick Hairston, WAC compliance director. "We believe it protects the academic integrity of the schools," Hairston said.
Steve Martin, UH's faculty representative to the WAC Council, said the rule was already in the works before the Hawai'i Bowl was created.