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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 8, 2003

Assistant leaves Warriors

Survey: Who would you want to see as the next UH football defensive coordinator?

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Speculation has centered on University of Hawai'i assistant coach Rich Miano or Saint Louis School athletic director Cal Lee as the possible successor to Kevin Lempa, who resigned as UH's football defensive coordinator to accept a job coaching the defensive backs at Boston College.

UH coach June Jones, who is on the Mainland for the next two weeks, said: "The defensive stuff we do is what we do. Just like when Greg (McMackin) left (as defensive coordinator in 2000), Kevin learned what we do. We will find the right guy for what we're doing. Whenever a change happens, it's a positive, and you get better, and that's how I feel."

In March of 2000, Jones told two Advertiser reporters he envisioned Miano becoming a Division I-A defensive coordinator in three to five years.

Yesterday, Miano, 40, a former Warrior and an 11-year NFL player who coaches the defensive backs, declined comment.

Last year, Jones offered Lee the job of recruiting coordinator, a noncoaching position. Lee said he turned down that offer because he wanted to remain at Saint Louis, and NCAA rules prohibited him from working for a high school while recruiting high school athletes.

Lee said he discussed two other job openings with Jones, in 1999 and 2001. He said he speaks with Jones regularly, but they have not discussed the new opening.

Lee said he has heard talk about being a candidate for the UH job, but "I have a full-time job (at Saint Louis) and a so-called part-time job" as head coach of the Hawaiian Islanders of arenafootball2. Lee has an escape clause with the Islanders, whose season runs through July.

"I don't want to speculate, out of respect for the guys up there (on the UH staff)," Lee said. "I think Rich, George (Lumpkin) and Vantz (Singletary) are very capable, and they all deserve a shot. I won't be hurt if I'm not mentioned."

Ron Lee, who coaches the UH receivers, said he hoped his brother would join the Warriors in some capacity.

"He could help us," Ron Lee said.

Lempa, 50, who was raised on the East Coast, expressed "mixed feelings" about returning to a school where he was an assistant from 1981 through 1990.

"This is a great place; the people have been nice, and I enjoyed working with the players," Lempa said. "But this is a chance to go home. It's time."

Lempa was the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the Western Athletic Conference last season. He earned a base salary of $105,000 annually, plus a housing allowance. He also received a bonus for the Warriors' appearance in the inaugural ConAgra Foods Hawai'i Bowl.

Lempa said his daughter is a junior at UH, adding that she will remain in Hawai'i for her senior year.

"Lempa's a great coach," former UH linebacker Matt Wright said. "It's not just the X's and O's. He knows how to motivate you. Everyone had respect for him. The future coach will have a lot to fill."