Coaches, Chancellors And Dollars

Larry Price
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Wednesday - March 21, 2007
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It is interesting to note that the University of Hawaii at Manoa has decided to hire a full-time chancellor. Over the years the UH regents and faculty have debated the merits of having both a full-time chancellor and full-time president. After what seemed to be a long, drawn-out search, the regents have named a chancellor, Virginia S. Hinshaw, who now serves as provost and executive vice chancellor of the University of California at Davis.

And from all indications, it was worth the wait.

In the meantime one would think the academic community and public-at-large would have been sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting with bated breath for a name, his or her credentials and how much the position of chancellor would pay. Would there be other perks included like the Dobelle debacle, complete with tenure, housing allowances and expense accounts?

But, sadly, the university community was consumed with activities taking place in the UH Athletic Department. On one hand it is quite an honor for athletic director Herman Frazier to have the local media at his beck and call, waiting for his spokesperson to quell the public’s fears about “weak teams” finding their way onto the UH football team’s 2007 schedule. Mr. Frazier, in the meantime, used his moment in the spotlight to assure the fans that UH basketball coach Riley Wallace was not returning for another year, and he was going to ask the UH regents to consider paying the new coach at least $400,000.

As if to point out the lunacy of the situation at Manoa, it is very likely the new basketball coach at UH-Manoa will get paid twice as much as the new chancellor. You can say what you want about unwarranted optimism, but these are clear warning signs that the university system is losing its direction.

And while all this talk over schedules and coaches’ pay has dominated the UH community, there has been no outrage from the UH regents, faculty or administration over the fact that the City and County of Honolulu is going to spend $6 billion to build some kind of a rail-transit system that will not connect to UH-Manoa. Yes, the UH student body president spoke out about the neglect, but then, a student body president doesn’t have the clout necessary to change a rail route.

There is very little reason for the media to be so concerned with the 2007 UH football schedule. Chances are, the schedule for 2008 will be even tougher to complete with quality opponents. The reason is simple. There is no upside for non-conference opponents to play the Warriors at Aloha Stadium. The team will be much tougher this year than last year. Any school with a big-time name and average team will not take the bait for a trip to paradise and a beating.

Believe it or not, this has all happened before. During the Dave Holmes era, after several stunning upsets, teams were leaving the schedule at an alarming rate. Teams like California Western and Humboldt State were checking out and being replaced with the likes of Nebraska, Tennessee and USC. The problem is during the June Jones III era, even those teams have more to lose than to gain by coming to Hawaii. Do you remember Coach Jones daring Ohio State to join the schedule last year?

The most important thing for UH to do is make it into the Christmas bowl game here (actually, Dec. 23 this year). As long as the Warriors win enough games to qualify, the program is in great shape. It really doesn’t matter if their star quarterback wins the Heisman Trophy or not - balancing the budget is more important. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that winning the Heisman and balancing a top-heavy athletic department budget are of equal difficulty. They are not.

Hopefully, UH-Manoa will get a distinguished chancellor, the new basketball coach will make at least $400,000, the UH football schedule will be filled with big-name teams that don’t play very well, the fixed guideway transit will someday find its way to Manoa and academic sanity can return to campus.

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