Amemiya up for UH Board of Regents job
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Keith Amemiya, a rising administrator who has changed the landscape of local high school sports the past decade, has accepted an offer to become interim executive administrator and secretary of the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents, pending board approval at its meeting on Maui next Thursday.
If approved, he would start the UH job on March 8, with an end date of March 7, 2011.
Amemiya, 44, declined official comment after being contacted by phone. But his pending appointment is listed on the Board of Regents meeting agenda, under "Personnel Actions, University of Hawai'i system."
Salary for the position is listed at $13,668 per month, with a "temporary salary adjustment" of $12,712 per month.
The job is considered to be one of the highest and most influential positions in the UH administration — serving as a liaison among the school president, chancellors and Board of Regents on policy and operational issues.
"I think Keith is an excellent choice for that position," said UH athletic director Jim Donovan. "He is very adept at handling complex issues and getting them to be workable. He's well-connected in the community, he has his law degree, an excellent business acumen, great personality ... He has a multitude of attributes, and is a great fit for everything."
Since taking over the helm of the HHSAA — Hawai'i's governing body for prep sports and facilitator of all state tournaments — as a surprise hire in 1998, Amemiya has been a force of change in local high school athletics, most notably:
• Creating a classification system for state tournaments allowing smaller schools a window to compete for state titles;
• Initiating a football state tournament that includes Neighbor Island representation;
• Adding state tournaments in sports like judo, air riflery, canoe paddling and cheerleading, to the point where Hawai'i now leads the nation in number of state tournament events;
• Spearheading the HHSAA's "SOS" (Save Our Sports) campaign, which has raised more than $1.4 million in the past six months to help offset drastic budget cuts to public school athletic programs;
• Setting in motion the installation of a state-of-the-art artificial surface field at Roosevelt's Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium, the first project of its kind at a Hawai'i public school.
Amemiya officially announced his resignation in November, with a plan to step down at the end of the school year.
Rumors had circulated that Amemiya would somehow enter the political arena, but Datahouse chairman Dan Arita — whose Honolulu-based high-tech consulting firm has been a major HHSAA sponsor throughout Amemiya's tenure — said the UH position probably is a better option.
Two of Arita's friends, Roy Takeyama and Pepper Shiramizu, previously held the Board of Regents job Amemiya is up for.
"Keith has won at everything he's done (in the HHSAA), but if you go into politics, all of a sudden you're losing 50 percent," Arita said. "He'll bring a lot of respect to the university, he'll continue to reach out and work with people in the community. He's a good fit; it's a win-win all-around."
UH women's volleyball coach Dave Shoji, who recently completed his 35th season, said Amemiya's ability to consider different viewpoints will be valuable.
"He understands the whole picture, and he'll take good advice from both sides," Shoji said. "He won't automatically agree with something without thinking it through, and I think that'll be healthy for us."
Read his blog on high school sports at http://preptalk.honadvblogs.com.