RAINBOW WARRIOR BASKETBALL
UH's Wallace open to 21st season
But Frazier points to contract language that spells out the basketball coach's retirement
SALT LAKE CITY » On this Riley Wallace and Herman Frazier agree -- the focus of the upcoming Hawaii basketball season should be on the present and the players taking the court.
Still, the future remains a storyline that figures to linger throughout Wallace's 20th season as head coach.
Wallace is entering the final year of a two-year contract he signed last year that spells out the end of Wallace's tenure at UH.
Lately, though, Wallace hasn't sounded like the issue of retirement has been completely settled as he looked forward to tomorrow's start of practice at Twilight Ohana.
"I haven't made any decision," he said yesterday while attending the Western Athletic Conference Basketball Preview. "I'll talk to my family first and as the season goes along get a feel for what's going on and see where it is. And if it's time to go, I'll be the first one to go and I won't look back and I won't have a problem with it.
"Right now I haven't made my mind up."
According to the contract, which included a raise from his previous deal, there doesn't appear to be wiggle room even if he did want to continue coaching at UH.
Wallace's contract went into effect on May 1, 2005 and states,
"that the term of this Agreement will not be extended or renewed. Specifically, the term of this Agreement will expire on April 30, 2007, and the University will not negotiate a new contract with Coach."
Asked if it's still possible a new contract could be drawn up, Wallace responded, "You'd have to ask (athletic director Herman Frazier) about that, I really don't know. "
"It's not my decision whether I come back or not," he said. "It's his decision as to whether or not he wants to renegotiate if I decided I wanted to come back."
When contacted yesterday, Frazier referred to the pact that Wallace signed last year and indicated there might be more behind the comments.
"The contract states exactly what it states," Frazier said. "And I think what everybody should be focused on, including Coach Wallace, is getting the team through this basketball season. I think campaigning for a new contract through the media is not how we do things at the University of Hawaii."
Wallace, who enters the season with a record of 316-252 at UH, turns 65 this month and said he had talked about retiring when he reached that age.
"Because everybody brings it up, it's in your mind," he said. "But I haven't really sat down with my wife or assistants or anybody.
"I said when I got to be 65 I'd look at the possibility of retiring. That's why it was brought up in the contract and they put the raise in there."
Wallace said he's not looking at the future beyond the start of practice and the upcoming season, which opens Nov. 10 at UNLV.
"I don't have any plans other than to coach this team," he said. "I have a lot of energy right now. I feel good about my team, I like my players, I made the schedule tough and I want to give them every chance to be able to compete and get ready to go."
The Rainbows are coming off a 17-11 season and were picked fifth in the Western Athletic Conference's preseason polls released yesterday.
Wallace is among a select few Western Athletic Conference coaches (in any sport) or administrators who predate Karl Benson's 13-year tenure as commissioner. Benson shied away from speculating on the future but commented on Wallace's contributions over the years.
"He's obviously the dean of WAC coaches," Benson said. "I respect what he's done. I value what he's done for the league. He's been an outstanding spokesperson for the league and he's brought a lot of credibility to the league."