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

February 17, 2014

Think About It: UH Sports Reality

We need to stop the foolishness. We need to stop sitting here year after year stunned when the UH Athletics Department announces it's going to fall short of breaking even. It's not a news story anymore; it's a given. Maybe you haven't heard the bigger picture news… According to USA Today, only 23 of 228 athletics departments at NCAA Division I public schools generated enough money on their own to cover their expenses in 2012. That's right, just 23 of 228 public schools showed a profit on their own.

Did you know that all of the parking revenue generated by UH athletics goes to Auxiliary Services? But that's not their fault. Did you know that the state-run Aloha Stadium deal is not a good one for UH? But that's no one's fault. Did you know that up till now, Rainbowtique, which sells UH merchandise, functions autonomously from UH Athletics? But that's no one's fault. Did you know that it's tough to book concerts at Stan Sheriff Center because of an antiquated, grandfathered, first-right-of-refusal clause with the Blaisdell Arena? But that's no one's fault. Did you know that UH is probably the only school that pays travel subsidies, charges a lower amount in student fees than others in the Big West and Mountain West, and pays the highest travel costs of any school? Vilified for losing $2-$3 million? Hey, these athletic department guys just might be heroes for doing what they do in spite of all this!

Yet, year after year, people locally, including legislators and reporters, are incredulous that this so-called "business" of UH sports simply can't make money. Well, here's the reality. Either better fund the programs as they do elsewhere, accept an annual projection of a $2-million loss as a given, or take the handcuffs and bureaucratic ties off of the people in charge and let them run their operation like a business with some innovation and hope. How about we try that before we cut more recruiting trips, capital projects, part-time assistants or sports programs? If you want a Division I program that we can all be even more proud of, you've got to stop tying its hands behind its back and then ask it to not only swim, but to win the race! Haven't we learned anything after 15-years? Please, either change the paradigm soon or revisit the accounting procedures with UH athletics. Think about it…

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