By Ferd Lewis
Not many University of Hawai'i coaches got to meet the school's new Rainbow Wahine basketball coach, but that hasn't kept Jim Bolla from quickly becoming a very popular addition to the athletic department.
Never mind that Bolla was only here for a few days before jetting back to the Mainland this past weekend to begin recruiting again after an eight-year layoff. He has already left a mark.
For when the school announced it was would be paying Bolla a $120,000 salary, it raised hopes if maybe not standards well beyond the frontiers of the basketball office.
If you are any of the handful of coaches who have been in negotiation on a new contract or will soon be coming up on one, those kinds of numbers have to be food for thought.
For all the talk about million-dollar deficits and the imposition of a 4 percent across-the-board trim in budgets to combat them, the numbers say coaches can still hope to be well compensated. It says that while former president Evan Dobelle is forced to grapple with the Board of Regents for his severance pay, the salary structure he put into place for coaches is still operable.
The case of UH women's volleyball coach Dave Shoji is one that immediately comes to mind. Shoji, the school's longest-serving active coach, is going on his 30th season and has been working on an expired contract for more than a year. For him, especially, Bolla's numbers are sure to have meaning.
Shoji, according to UH documents, was paid $95,004 per season under the last contract, a figure that might not have even been the best in the Western Athletic Conference he has dominated.
Bolla's predecessor, Vince Goo, who was the winningest basketball coach in the state, was at $90,000 until 2004, the final year of his contract, when he received an undisclosed raise above $115,000.
If the new coach of a program that has not only never made money but has annually lost $500,000 or more can command $120,000 per season, then what about Shoji, whose teams make money?
If a brand new coach here rates that kind of money, what about somebody whose teams already have four national championship banners hanging in the rafters of the Stan Sheriff Center?
Shoji is just the best example of somebody able to make a case for a raise based in some part on Bolla's deal. But he's probably not the only one. Baseball coach Mike Trapasso and softball coach Bob Coolen are also due for new contracts.
While they probably haven't had the opportunity to say it themselves, chances are the feeling is, "thanks, Jim, and welcome aboard."
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 525-8044.