Thursday, May 11, 2000
fire over Confederate
A multi-ethnic group calls forBy Pat Bigold
removal of the UH coach because
of comments made about
South Carolina flag
On the same day the South Carolina House voted to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol dome, a citizens group blasted University of Hawaii men's basketball coach Riley Wallace for not supporting the NCAA's denouncement of the flag.
In a news release yesterday, the African-American Association of Hawaii called for Wallace's removal "as soon as contractually possible."
A spokesman for the group said a similar release by the Japanese-American Citizens' League, was due out today.
The AAAH release refers to remarks by Wallace on April 29 in the Star-Bulletin that the NCAA should stay out of politics.
The NCAA had just passed a resolution that warned South Carolina to either take down the flag or lose all NCAA-sponsored events planned for the state.
That would have included the 2002 men's basketball regional in Greenville, S.C.
"I don't say take it down or leave it," Wallace told the Star-Bulletin, reacting to the NCAA action. "But I don't think the NCAA should try to force the hand of the people who live there.
"I wouldn't think anyone should try to be influencing us in Hawaii because we have different ideas. They (South Carolinians) should work out their own problems there."
The AAAH took strong issue with that stance.
"His failure to recognize this flag as a symbol of slavery, segregation and hatred of African-Americans is comparable to accepting the Nazi swastika symbolizing Jewish persecution as a matter for the Germans to work out," said the group.
Wallace refused to comment yesterday as did athletic director Hugh Yoshida. Yoshida indicated a response from UH would be made today.
Faye Kennedy, listed on the news release as the spokeswoman for the group, said the much-publicized 1995 incident in which Wallace's son, Rob, directed a racial slur at a fan during a Rainbow basketball game at the Stan Sheriff Center figures prominently in the current effort to see Wallace removed.
"Certainly, that's very important," said Kennedy. "It's a pattern."
She said that Wallace's remarks could affect his ability to recruit black athletes.
UH president Kenneth Mortimer said he hadn't had a chance to review Wallace's remarks but he defended his right to speak his mind.
"In his role as a citizen, he's free to express his views," said the outgoing president. "He expressed his opinion."
Outgoing senior Geremy Robinson, a black Louisiana native who played two seasons for Wallace, said he can't see the problem.
"He didn't say anything wrong," said Robinson, who noted that Wallace often reminded his players that racial epithets would not be tolerated. "Whatever goes down, I'll back him up."
Ka Leo O Hawaii