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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, August 2, 2008

June Jones may pay $200,000 for breaking Hawaii contract

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Former University of Hawai'i football head coach June Jones, who left UH six days after the Warriors' loss in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl, has still not worked out the details of his contract with UH. His contract provided for damages if he terminated the agreement before a certain date.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

June Jones

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Former University of Hawai'i football coach June Jones is expected to pay the school approximately $200,000 to settle a five-month-old dispute resulting from his departure to Southern Methodist University.

An agreement in principle has been reached with some procedural issues remaining but an announcement on the terms could come next week, according to sources familiar with the case.

Speculation has been that Jones wanted the money to be earmarked for the athletic department or the football program. That may be among the details to be resolved.

UH President David McClain and the school's attorneys briefed the Board of Regents Thursday.

"We're hopeful that a settlement will be reached in the near future," Carolyn Tanaka, UH associate vice president for external affairs and university relations, said yesterday. "When and if a settlement is reached, the university believes that it should be made public, as state law requires."

Jones received $800,016 per year from UH, although half of it was paid through donations.

UH has been seeking $400,008 from Jones, the amount specified in a clause in his last UH contract signed in 2003. The contract provided for damages, "if he terminates this agreement prior to June 30, 2008."

Jones' contract specified payment was to be made within 60 days of departure, meaning it was due March 7, 2008.

But Jones and his representatives have contended that former athletic director Herman Frazier agreed to drop the restriction if Jones fulfilled at least the first two years of the deal.

Moreover, they claim to have e-mails on that point. Frazier was terminated the day after Jones announced he was leaving. UH maintained the contract could only be amended in writing by agreement of both parties.

After several rounds of fruitless negotiations, the issue went to pre-mediation in May and the parties have been involved in mediation off and on since June 9. Binding arbitration, as provided for in the contract, was to be the next step if mediation was unsuccessful.

The contract says mediation and arbitration fees will be shared and each party is responsible for their own attorney fees.

Jones left UH six days after the Warriors' Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl loss to the University of Georgia. SMU reportedly more than doubled his annual UH pay.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com.