Frazier: A Lot Done, More To Do

Bobby Curran
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Friday - August 11, 2006
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I sat down last week with UH athletics director Herman Frazier to talk about the state of the athletic department. Frazier is beginning his fifth year at the school. In an hour and 10 minutes we covered a variety of subjects, from scheduling to his capital improvements plan. While we spoke, Frazier received 22 e-mails, testimony to a position that requires unusual vigilance.

On receiving national awards such as being named to the 100 most influential NCAA student athletes:

“I think it does a lot for the university. Every time my name gets mentioned, it lets people know who we are. Whenever I do something around the country that gets publicized, it gives us exposure that you just can’t buy. When I saw those names, like Dwight Eisenhower, Arthur Ashe and Jackie Robinson, I was humbled (laughs). I don’t know how I got on that list! I owe a lot to my parents. That’s the way I was raised and those are the kinds of goals they set for me when I was growing up.”

On the general progress made by the athletic department since he arrived:

“I think we’ve come a long way. But you have to understand, you can’t progress if you don’t have the support of the administration. If those folks are saying no, you can’t do it. You have the board of regents, then the president, and then the person I report to, who is the chancellor. I was at the WAC football meeting last week and we talked about coaches’ salaries and positions. I would say that Mike Trapasso is the second-highest paid coach in the conference, June is the second-highest paid coach in the conference, Riley Wallace is third, Dave Shoji is the No. 1 in the conference and probably No. 2 in the nation, and Mike Wilton is probably No. 1 in the MPSF. And we’ve been able to bring in good people, like Victor Wales (swimming). Everybody said the program was in trouble, and he comes in and wins the WAC. You can’t do these things without support.

On UH facilities:

“We’re probably sixth or seventh in the WAC. We’ve got work to do. Nationally, we’re middle of the pack or a little below. The university has allocated money for new seats and new lights for Cooke Field, and we’re working on a donor for new turf and more seats beyond what the university has allocated. We’re getting $2.5 million for Les Murakami Stadium. Some of this work can begin as soon as this fall. We need to plan for a new complex for our offices. It’ll probably mean $20 million for a good spruce-up, and perhaps $40 million to have something special.”

On the budget for athletics:

“When I came we were at $16 million, now it’s between $20 million and $21 million annually. It puts us second in WAC to Fresno State, they’re about $23 million. Oregon State is the bottom of the PAC 10 at $35 million, to give you an idea. We’re real close to break-even; we’ve stopped the bleeding. I’ll tell you this, if football and basketball were to go into the tank, the program would lose money, and that’s true for any school in the WAC, Mountain West or Conference USA. The BCS schools are insulated by television money.”

On the relationship with Aloha Stadium:

“It’s at an all-time high. Aloha Stadium rent was huge, and we’ve got great lines of communication - I think it’s developed into a very effective partnership.”

On scheduling marquee opponents in football:

“We want to play top names. It’s good for our reputation and important financially. My Fiesta Bowl committee days helped me form relationships that make these games happen. It’s why I’m on the NCAA Football Issues committee now. In the future, I’m looking at games with people like Penn State, Ohio State, Georgia, South Carolina. I still talk with my old friend Kevin White at Notre Dame.”

On his legendary travel schedule:

“Some of my peers have taken to calling me The Human Experiment because I seem to be able to get off planes and just go, regardless of time zone. I’ve always been like that. But I’m only doing NCAA and WAC committee work now; I’m done with the Olympics and USA Track and Field. If I feel that going somewhere will help our interests, I’m there.”

As we wrapped up our interview and his computer beeped with the 22nd e-mail, you could-n’t leave Herman Frazier’s office without feeling that here is a man thoroughly engaged in his work.

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