DIVISION II COLLEGES
The recent flood of defections from the Hawaii Pacific athletic department rose to the top Tuesday when athletic director and basketball coach J.D. Barnett resigned from both posts to be closer to his family in Louisville.
"Basketball is done for me," Barnett said. "I think at age 61 1/2, it is just time to call it quits and enjoy my family and just enjoy life."
Barnett said that when he returned to Louisville during the NCAA Final Four, it was harder than he expected to leave his family -- including a son-in-law who recently returned from Iraq -- and return to work in Hawaii.
Barnett is just the latest to leave HPU's athletic department, following baseball coach and assistant athletic director Allan Sato, golf coach Mark Kalilikane and basketball coaches Russell Dung and Darrell Matsui. Sato had spent 16 years at HPU.
"After only 9 1/2 months, I just think it's a shame for the student-athletes to go through another transition," Sato said. "It's a shame."
Barnett went 10-16 last year and finished fifth in the six-team Pacific West Conference. HPU struggled to a 9-17 record under Dung before Barnett took over.
"Coach Barnett did a great job for us. It is very difficult to take a team that someone else has assembled, especially with the late start he got," HPU Vice President E. Rick Stepien said.
Barnett, who had more than 300 wins at four Division I schools before joining HPU, signed a three-year contract in August.
Barnett's retirement leaves associate athletic director Jill Ward in charge of the athletic department on an interim basis. Kelly Wells, an assistant under Barnett, takes over as basketball coach.
Wells will retain his position as assistant athletics director, working under Ward. It is Ward's first shot at an athletic director's job after working in the athletic departments at Loyola and Northwestern and in the NCAA national office from 2001 to 2004.
Ward will be asked to guide HPU through a tough period despite having the "interim" tag preceding her job title.
During Barnett's short reign, two schools -- Montana State-Billings and Western New Mexico -- left the PacWest, leaving the conference with only four teams.