Frazier opens up
The Hawaii AD draws applause at QB Club, but still wrestles with five-year budget plan
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The Honolulu Quarterback Club got some of what it was looking for from Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier yesterday.
Accountability for the weak 2007 football schedule:
"Believe you me, we exhausted every avenue possible. ... We got caught with our pants down and paid for it dearly."
A little humility:
"Generals and admirals. ... What am I going to tell them about leadership?"
A lot of access:
"I'll answer any question from anyone. ... I am not this roaring tiger who does not talk to people. I am not inaccessible."
Frazier drew applause before and after his talk to the weekly gathering of sports enthusiasts -- a far cry from the reception he got at basketball coach Riley Wallace's aloha game in February.
Many ardent UH fans may have forgiveness in their hearts, especially since Frazier's statement that 2006-2007 was the "best-ever season for UH sports" bears merit. And it won't be known for five more months if the cupcake slate keeps the Warriors from attaining their goals.
But Frazier still has some cold, hard reality to deal with -- namely, the UH budget. The bleeding has stopped the past two years, but Frazier's five-year plan he introduced to the Board of Regents in 2004 to get out of overall debt is in shambles.
"One of these days you'll see it's not about the budget, it's about developing broad-based programs," Frazier said.
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The University of Hawaii athletic department remains far behind in its five-year plan to pull itself out of a seven-figure overall budget deficit -- enough where it has to revise the timetable.
"We amend it every year," athletic director Herman Frazier said yesterday, when asked about the status of the plan he introduced in 2004.
The department currently carries a $2.3 million deficit.
Frazier's projections from the plan approved by the Board of Regents three years ago called for UH to have a $2,880,008 net surplus at the end of the fiscal year completed June 30.
After three consecutive years of losses, UH was in the black by $7,483 for the 2005-2006 year, and revenues might exceed expenses by a few dollars again this year, Frazier said.
"It will be very, very close for 2006-2007," Frazier said yesterday, speaking at the Honolulu Quarterback Club.
But the plan called for gains of $1,188,000 in 2005-2006 and $2,463,000 in 2006-2007.
Projected revenue fell short two years ago partly because of UH's first losing football season in five years.
In the just completed year, "We didn't take in as much as we thought we would in basketball," Frazier said. He added that baseball didn't have as good a year as expected at the gate.
The plan called for net assets of $8,231,008 by the end of the fifth year, fiscal year 2009.
Frazier said new revisions to the five-year plan won't be discussed at next week's BOR meetings.
"We don't talk about the five-year plan until the audit (in the fall)," he said.
UH athletics undergoes an independent audit each year.
State Rep. Mark Takai (D-Aiea, Pearl City) raised questions about the budget at a legislative information session in May. State auditor Marion Higa also looked at the numbers last month, and is considering an audit.
Frazier said UH is far from being the only college sports program with difficulties making revenue match expenses.
"The average WAC program loses 2-to-3 million dollars a year," he said. "You'd be surprised how many teams in the BCS aren't in the black."
Surcharges for season tickets in various sports, called premium seat donations, have helped balance the budget, Frazier said.
"Premium seats have kept our program afloat," he said.
Frazier also said progress is being made in scholarship endowments, particularly in basketball. A celebration of coach Riley Wallace's retirement brought in $100,000, plus a matching donation of $100,000 by booster Carolyn Berry, Frazier said.
"No matter what happens ... basketball (scholarships) will be endowed," Frazier said.
The athletic director also said he would discuss with the BOR a new salary for football coach June Jones, who's contract expires next year.
Jones, the winningest football coach in UH history, currently makes $800,000 per year, half of which comes from private funding. Speculation is Jones can command a salary of at least $1 million per year.
"It's too premature to talk about what the price tag will be on that position," Frazier said. "I don't want our Board of Regents to read it. They need to hear it from me. I have to be guarded with the way I make my presentation to the people I report to."
» In football scheduling, Frazier said he is having discussions with three teams for two spots to complete the 2008 schedule. He expects to complete that task by the end of next month.
» The contract bid process for renovations to Les Murakami Stadium continues, Frazier said. The goal is still to have a new playing surface in place by the start of next season.
Also, he said negotiations with a potential donor for renovation of Cooke Field is "ongoing."
» If UH adds any new sports in the near future, they will be women's teams due to Title IX considerations.
"We definitely can't add men's sports. Everybody wants to beat me up because we don't have men's track," said Frazier, a two-time Olympic sprint medalist.