Pacific West schools look to add sport
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
The six schools that comprise the Pacific West Conference could know by the end of the month what sport will be added to meet an NCAA requirement for the 2004-05 season.
The conference composed of Brigham Young-Hawai'i, Chaminade, Hawai'i-Hilo, Hawai'i Pacific, Montana State-Billings and Western New Mexico will hold a meeting April 24 in La'ie to discuss several topics, including the addition of one sport, according to BYUH athletic director Randy Day.
A new NCAA rule requires each Division II school in the PacWest to field 10 conference sports for the 2004-05 season to receive voting privileges and NCAA money.
Of the 10 conference sports, each school can have a combination of either five men's sports and five women's sports, or four men's and six women's.
Currently, each PacWest school has seven conference sports with three men's sports (basketball, tennis and cross country) and four women's sports (softball, tennis, volleyball and cross country).
Each school also has different non-conference sports such as baseball (HPU, UH-Hilo), men's water polo (Chaminade, BYUH), football (Western New Mexico) and women's basketball (Montana State-Billings).
The addition of men's and women's golf will boost the number of conference sports to nine. The 10th conference sport is still being debated.
"I think what most of the conference schools are adding is men's and women's golf," Day said. "We may be able to nail the last sport at this meeting (on April 24)."
Montana State-Billings and Western New Mexico have men's and women's golf programs, and Hawai'i-Hilo has a men's golf program.
Some of the additional sports that have been brainstormed are bowling, women's basketball and riflery, Day said.
"We have to come up with a sport that is not going to cost that much and where we can limit travel," Day said. "Those are the primary considerations."
Day said he would like to add water polo as a conference sport, but he said other schools are opposed to the idea because some don't have access to pools.
BYUH men's water polo coach Aukai Ferguson said he's in favor of adding women's water polo, which is currently a club sport at the school. Ferguson also coaches the Kahuku High School girls water polo team.
"As the men's water polo coach and with extensive experience coaching women, I've been lobbying hard for the women's team," said Ferguson, who also coaches the Kahuku High girls team. "But I understand where (Day's) coming from."
Coaching search: Hawai'i athletic director Kathleen McNally said she hoped the new women's volleyball coach could be hired before the signing date for recruits on April 16.
"At the rate we're going hopefully," said McNally.
The vacancy was created when Hall of Fame coach Sharon Peterson announced her retirement Dec. 4. Peterson coached the Vulcans for 25 years and served her final day Dec. 31.
Volleyball is the school's flagship women's sport and has produced seven national titles. Peterson's teams won 511 matches and seven national championships. Her players received 42 All-America honors.
McNally said the search for a new coach is being handled by a selection committee headed by assistant athletic director Jim DeMello. McNally said she plans to interview the candidates at a later date.
The school has received nearly 70 applications and recently narrowed the field to nine, McNally said.
McNally said the new coach will not be required to take on the senior women's administrator post that was held by Peterson.
"It's not attached to the job," McNally said. "It's an issue we'll deal with over the summer."
In the meantime, the recruiting is being done by assistant coach Kawaileleohi'ilawe, McNally said.