Think About It: UH Athletics and Reality - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

March 28, 2013

Think About It: UH Athletics and Reality

The University of Hawaii-Manoa on behalf of its athletics department is apparently going to ask the UH Board of Regents to forgive its ever-growing athletics department debt, which will reach upwards of $13-million by the end of this fiscal year on June 30. Whether or not it's forgiven, something needs to be done to rectify the inequities of this division I program. The UH athletics department has been asked to run itself more like a business, but is that realistic in today's challenging college landscape when the athletics department has its hands tied behind its back like few other comparable institutions.

UH pays rent to play football, it doesn't get a fair share of concessions from the Rainbowtique, it doesn't share in parking revenue when you come on campus to park specifically for an athletic event, and it gets less in state funding than any other state schools it competes against. So asking UH sports to fix its financial woes in the face of these realities is a bit like asking a guy in a leaky boat to keep rowing to shore, without plugging or even acknowledging the obvious holes…

One possible way to reassess things would be to simply plan for  and accept an annual deficit of $2- to $3-million, which would still be a smaller loss than realized by most institutions in the so-called Football Bowl Subdivision. Yes, despite raking in billions of dollars in television, ticket, and licensing revenues, all but 14 of the 106 schools in the NCAA's top athletic division lost money in 2009.  Only 17 of 300 Division I athletic programs made money between 2004 and 2006. Only 10% of 227 Division I public school athletic programs made money in 2011. The median loss for all schools was over $10 million. So let's give UH a fair chance and either provide more state subsidies, unpleasant as it may sound, allow revenue to funnel to athletics when it's due to athletics, or get realistic about expectations to turn a so-called profit year after year. Think about it…

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