Hinshaw approves latest proposal
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
A new proposal for a student athletic fee that could help the University of Hawai'i athletic department balance its annual budget is headed toward the Board of Regents for review.
Spokesman Gregg Takayama said Mānoa chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw has signed off on the proposal that would assess all full- and part-time students $50 per semester and result in $2 million per year in revenue.
The proposal, which is expected to be passed on by UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, could go before the regents as soon as the July 15 meeting. The regents are not scheduled to meet next month.
But even if it is approved this summer, UH officials said the fee would not be assessed until January 2011.
The athletic department is projecting a $2 million deficit for the current fiscal year that ends June 30 and has run at a deficit in seven of the previous eight years. The accumulated net deficit is currently $8 million and is projected to reach $10.1 million at the close of the current fiscal year.
UH is the only school in the nine-member Western Athletic Conference without some form of a student fee and has sought to implement one for more than two years over the opposition of student government leaders.
Incoming officers of the Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i (ASUH) did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the latest proposal.
ASUH vice president-elect Anna Koethe told Ka Leo O Hawai'i, the student newspaper, "On behalf of ASUH, I am strongly opposed to an athletic fee at this current time."
After several student groups and committees expressed objections to proposals last year, Takayama said Hinshaw "asked the athletic department to take another look" at how it could give the students better value. "The new proposal makes several changes to prior proposals," Takayama said.
In exchange for the $50 per semester fee, the current proposal would set aside seats for students at all events where an admission fee is charged. For example, up to 10 percent of Aloha Stadium's 50,000-seat capacity, would be for students. In the event student demand exceeds the allotment, a committee composed of students, athletic representatives and campus administrators would be charged with finding a solution.
Five percent of the money collected would be turned over to the committee, which would earmark the funds to enhance the student experience through promotions, giveaways, transportation or additional and varied events.
In addition, Takayama said, the athletic department would host a free concert for students in the Stan Sheriff Center at the beginning of each school year.
"Getting the students more involved in athletics would be a win-win all the way around," athletic director Jim Donovan said.
Takayama said "the chancellor realizes there is still going to be concern or opposition on the part of some but what she is prepared to tell those (people) is that she has to address the financial stability of the entire university, including athletics. It is her feeling that a strong, financially stable sports program is important not just for the university, but the entire community, our alumni, other supporters and possible donors."