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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, July 25, 2003

Coaches support Jones' raise

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

University of Hawai'i's decision to award coach June Jones a new contract that pays $800,016 per year is supported by Western Athletic Conference football coaches.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

BOISE, IDAHO — Who says money can't buy friends?

The Western Athletic Conference football coaches attending the league's 2003 Media Preview overwhelming supported the University of Hawai'i's decision to award coach June Jones with a new contract that pays a base salary of $800,016 annually.

"It's good for him, and it's good for the conference," said Boise State coach Dan Hawkins, who will earn about a fourth of Jones' salary despite leading the Broncos to last year's WAC title. "Anytime the conference move up in any category, that's good. He obviously deserved it. The guy has a great resumé."

Southern Methodist coach Phil Bennett described Jones' new deal as the upside to "supply and demand. I think he's done a great job over there, and he's getting rewarded for it."

Nevada coach Chris Tormey added: "It's well deserved. He proved himself in the NFL, and he proved himself at Hawai'i. He turned that program around. He made a big difference for the whole university. It's richly deserved."

Although UH's Board of Regents approved a new contract for Jones last month, Jones has yet to sign it. Jones refused to reveal the holdup, although he said it has nothing to do with his pension or benefits.

Jones, who will become the WAC's highest-paid coach, will earn nearly $300,000 more than Fresno State's Pat Hill.

"That's where he ranks, that's what he's done, that's the market value," San Jose State coach Fitz Hill said. "I'm sure his agent (Leigh Steinberg) researched the market for what he's accomplished. It's kind of like the housing market."

He added: "Right now, I'm a duplex."

But Hill said his situation will not be enhanced by Jones' new contract. "Not unless I win," Hill said. "I mean, he's won. He's had 10-win seasons. That's the market value. I'm not at the market value right now."

Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell acknowledged that "it hasn't had an effect on my contract, but this kind of raises the bar of what guys are getting paid in the conference."

Texas-El Paso coach Gary Nord said: "It's good to see the schools in the conference bring out the big dollars like the rest of the schools around the country. The overall coaching profession is going in the direction of big-time salaries."

So far, that has not happened at UTEP, where, according to the El Paso Times, Nord and his nine assistants earn a combined $635,000 annually. Nord's salary is $147,500.

Louisiana Tech's Bicknell said one thing will change. "From now on," Bicknell said, "June should pick up more of the tabs."