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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 28, 2010

UH should address state of its athletics


By Ferd Lewis

President Obama, as you've undoubtedly noticed, had a State of the Union address.

Gov. Linda Lingle has the State of the State and Mayor Mufi Hannemann the State of the City. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has a state of the NFL speech that comes the week of the Super Bowl. Even the PGA Tour commissioner, Tim Finchem, does an annual address.

Isn't it time the University of Hawai'i got in the rotation, offering up a state of the school's sports address?

To be sure, the present UH administration Mānoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw and athletic director Jim Donovan has been vastly more visible and, in so many respects, more up front in discussing the athletic affairs of the school than previous administrations.

But since UH occupies such a prominent place on the local sports landscape, why not an annual public review of where the Warriors-Rainbow Wahine-Rainbows-Rainbow Warriors stand, where they are attempting to go and how they plan to get there?

And not just behind closed doors with the Board of Regents once a year, either.

Some of the runaway deficits UH has incurred might have been better understood, not to mention dealt with before they became burdensome, if the athletic director at the time, Herman Frazier, had stood before the public and given a rundown of where the department stood.

Instead, because he was able to tap dance around the regents, it wasn't until Rep. K. Mark Takai hauled him down to the Capitol for a committee hearing in 2007 that much of the public began to get a clearer picture of the tide of red ink UH is awash in.

Now, more than at any time in its history, UH athletics is challenged by finances. There's a $6 million at last estimate accumulated net deficit built up over the past seven years. There could be as much as a $2 million deficit for the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2010, alone. In the meantime, UH is trying to make competitive leaps.

How UH will handle those deficits and what it intends to do about retiring them are subjects that should be addressed in the widest possible forum. There is a proposal to raise the maximum ticket price levels that a lot of people might like to know more about.

We're guessing most people would be surprised to learn that UH actually dropped some ticket price levels more than a year ago and that it also reworked its arena and baseball concessions deals to lower food prices.

UH sports is the biggest game in town and, since, as we are constantly reminded they "play for (us)," it is in everyone's best interests to better know where they stand.