Think About It: UH Sports Loses Money… Ho Hum - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

June 2, 2014

Think About It: UH Sports Loses Money… Ho Hum

Almost four months ago, I did an editorial decrying the fact that every year we see or hear the story of the UH Athletics Department losing about $2-million or so and then make a big deal out of it. The fact that this deficit is an annual fact and has become the norm means it probably shouldn't be a major discussion point every year. Yet, it is a front-page article and a major story for a few days every year, yet little is done to address the realities. Yes, turning over the merchandise sales to the athletics department will help, but until long-term solutions are found for the Aloha Stadium issues involving both costs and no revenue opportunities, until the parking concessions on game nights goes toward athletics, and until a few other issues are dealt with, like football wins, we can surely anticipate more of the same in 2015 and beyond.

And maybe that should be the acceptance level- a $2-million loss each year. For a billion dollar enterprise like UH, maybe the perspective needs to change, since 90% of public universities do lose money every year on athletics. If athletics are integral to a student's education, then maybe we should ask how much other departments lose each year at UH in comparison. Let me know how much the accounting or botany departments bring in vs. pay out. If we want this arm of the state university to operate as a business, then it needs to be set up that way- with more autonomy, opportunity, and clarity of purpose.

If the state university can't get the state-run stadium to give it a better deal via the state legislature or the state's governor, then let's lower the bar on expectations to reflect reality. This is not to say the athletics administration should be exempt from responsibility in terms of controllable items like smarter coaches' contacts and some transparency about its dubious local TV contract extension. But if losing $2-million annually has been the norm for well over a decade now, shouldn't we either change the rules or the expectations? Think about it…

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