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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 5, 2009

Warrior fundraiser sets goal at $1.65M

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Greg McMackin

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Saying the University of Hawai'i football team is "at an economic crossroads" to remaining competitive in a tough economy, its head coach and booster club are asking fans to help raise more than $1.65 million in aid for the centennial season this fall.

"Over 20,000 Warrior football fans and contributors," were asked to pitch in, according to the letter sent out and signed by coach Greg McMackin and Na Koa president Rick Blangiardi.

Na Koa has approximately 650 regular members and currently contributes about $650,000 to the operation of the football program, officials said.

The letter said, "our intention is to create a grass roots campaign that will expand our membership in Na Koa while creating a combined giving to meet the many current and unbudgeted financial needs of our Warrior football program."

The letter notes, "with continued success (comes) increased demands and expectations for excellence. Historically, our efforts to date have helped provide a fairly solid foundation for the football program. The challenge, however, of remaining competitive in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) has brought us to an economic crossroads at a time when we are experiencing an island economy we have not seen in years."

Na Koa has helped underwrite the costs of players attending summer school, buying communication head sets, video equipment and other needs for the team, Blangiardi said.

The letter said another mailing will go out to prospective donors this month.

Blangiardi is general manager of KGMB and played for UH (1965-66) and coached there (1971-76). He said Na Koa is "undergoing a major evolution" in attempting to more fully assist the football program. This group is currently searching for a full-time administrator.

Na Koa was the 1989 brainchild of then-UH head coach Bob Wagner and boosters Ed Wong and Ben Yee to direct support to the football program beyond what the athletic department could provide. Yee has helped oversee operations as a volunteer since that time.

UH played its first season of football in 1909, when it went 2-2 against McKinley High and O'ahu College (Punahou School), according to the school's football media guide.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com.