The silly Sugar Bowl cover-up, rude Gator fans

Bobby Curran
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Friday - May 30, 2008
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The recent controversy the University of Hawaii has faced regarding the release of the official travel party to the Sugar Bowl should provide an opportunity to avoid this kind of situation in the future.

A lot of it is mindset. People expect UH to conduct its business in the open, and as a state agency it should aim to fulfill this expectation as completely and quickly as possible. The UH may have to take a hit from some for its travel policy, on who was invited and who was left at home. You will never get everybody to agree with whatever is decided. It is apparent that both the size of the travel party and the dollars spent were well within the boundaries of what other universities do when invited to the bigger bowls.

But why all the secrecy? We keep hearing it was because of the advice of UH’s legal counsel. Easily fixed. Fire the counsel and hire representation that understands the need for transparency. Since Watergate, we have seen that the larger troubles stem not from an initial infraction but from attempts to obfuscate after the fact.

The university needs the good will and trust of the community. They can engender that by being forthright. UH did nothing wrong except to create the perception that there was impropriety. Even when the list was provided last week, it was filled with redactions. A complete list of who was on those planes should have been released the first week of January, and all this would have been a non-story. Hopefully Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw and Athletics Director Jim Donovan will have learned a valuable lesson from this fiasco and instruct people in their charge to act as if every decision they make will be subject to the light of day. That’s the public part of public institution.

Lately, media reports have spotlighted a number of Hawaii high school football prospects, especially Punahou linebacker Mani Teo, who was named by at least one scouting entity as the best player in the nation at his position. One report listed a handful of schools that have already offered Teo a scholarship; UH was conspicuous in its absence. I’ve consulted UH coaches and, trust me, Teo has been offered. In fact, UH has offered 10 local players scholarship offers to play for the Warriors. Head coach Greg McMackin and defensive coordinator Cal Lee will be at the schools and in the homes to the very limit allowed by the NCAA.

“It’s absolutely necessary,” says McMackin, “We want to get to know the families and we want them to know us. We take our responsibilities to these young men very seriously, and the parents need to hear that from us.”

The Warriors may not get every outstanding recruit, but it won’t be because they’ve been out-worked.

I’ve spoken to a couple of sports journalists who cover SEC football, and one area of agreement is that Florida ranks near the bottom in its treatment of visiting fans. Looks like Hawaii folks who make the trip will have to win over the Gator faithful with an extra large scoop of aloha.

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