Wednesday, April 14, 1999
The former UH football coachBy Paul Arnett
must settle his dispute with
the Board of Regents
out of court
The first round of the dispute between the University of Hawaii and Fred vonAppen goes to the Board of Regents.
First District Court Judge Gail Nakatani agreed today with the UH's position that vonAppen must settle his contract dispute through arbitration. VonAppen originally agreed to arbitration and even went so far as to select Gerald Sekiya to hear the matter.
But once UH started dictating what part of vonAppen's contract was to be heard by the arbitrator, the former head coach for the Rainbows decided to take the matter to court.
"We're willing to resolve this matter any way we can," said attorney Charlie Price, who is representing vonAppen through the Hawaii Government Employees Association. "We went on a dual tract because we didn't understand what the university's position was. And if the university is willing to arbitrate everything, that's fine with us.
"They've sent mixed messages. At first, they didn't want to arbitrate compensation issues. And I don't know if their position has changed from that or not. We've asked them to clarify it, but it's not yet been resolved"
VonAppen, who did not appear in court, was represented by Price and his personal attorney, Guy Sibilla. Sibilla said he wasn't surprised by Nakatani's ruling.
"It doesn't change any of the positions that we've taken before," Sibilla said. "Arbitration was a provision in the contract. We knew that. We just wanted to find out from the university what it wants to arbitrate.
"All the judge said was she was going to allow an arbitrator to determine what issues should be arbitrated. And if we disagree, we're coming back to court."
On the eve of the court appearance, UH attorneys denied that they had contacted vonAppen's lawyers about a possible buyout. But Sibilla stood by his comment.
"I'm surprised they would say that after they contacted us about a possible proposal late last week," Sibilla said yesterday.
VonAppen is challenging UH's attempts to reassign him to Honolulu Community College and to reduce his package to $103,000 over the two remaining years of his contract. If he is reassigned, he wants his full package worth $153,000 and to work at UH.
Price said arbitration could begin as early as next week, depending on everyone's schedule.