CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Wayne Coito made his wishes known about the UH athletic director during yesterday's rally at Bachman Hall.
Sports stands in a long queue of campus needs
One of football coach June Jones' main gripes with the University of Hawaii - poor facilities - is a problem that extends well beyond the athletic department on a campus needing a $300 million face lift, officials said yesterday.
Top UH-Manoa administrators attributed the backlog of 126 repair and maintenance projects at the campus to low state funding and a 2004 flood that caused about $100 million in damage.
"When I first came, I mentioned that UH-Manoa was a jewel in many ways, particularly intellectually, but badly tarnished physically," said Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw, who took office this summer. "Repairs and maintenance on the facilities overall on the entire campus must be addressed for us to fulfill the mission that we have for this state."
Her comments came after Jones decided to leave the football program despite being assured that sports facilities would be upgraded, including new turf on Cooke Field and renovations of locker rooms.
Asked why, despite those promises, Jones still took the head coaching job with Southern Methodist University in Texas, UH President David McClain cited the private college's steady financial backing, among the reasons.
He said an estimated $30 million given annually to UH's 10 campuses for repair and maintenance over the past decade is barely enough to keep buildings functioning.
But key lawmakers, including Sen. Norman Sakamoto (D, Salt Lake-Foster Village), said it was unclear whether UH had made any requests for athletic department improvements, even after the much-publicized plea for soap in the showers by quarterback Colt Brennan.
"The only thing has been money added by the Senate, and that was for the baseball stadium," said Senate budget committee chairwoman Roz Baker (D, Honokohau-Makena). "I suspect it may have been difficult for them to ask for athletic facilities when they have so many classrooms that need repair."
Budget documents from last year show that the university requested a total of $165 million to repair its campuses, with $28 million going to the Manoa Campus Center to add a fitness center, several gyms and student activity centers.
All of those requests were pared back to one $40 million lump sum for the school to use as it wished.
University officials are now hoping the loss of Jones after a near-perfect season that captivated Hawaii will lead to better funding, both from the state and private donors.
"I'm delighted to see the community, excited about what happened in the football season, now stepping up and saying, 'Hey, you know, we really do need to do more.'" McClain said. "I think it will have an effect in the political process as well as directly with us."
In its supplemental budget request to the Legislature, the university asked for nearly $100 million for systemwide repair and maintenance. The governor's administration cut the amount by half.
J.N. Musto, executive director of the university's faculty union, said the infrastructure in the entire system is "appalling" and might lead professors to quit.
A survey of about 3,000 members of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly done in November found that about half of them planned to leave the university in the next five years, mostly because of poor support, he said.
Musto suggested the Legislature raise taxes and allocate the money into a special fund to pay for improvements from public kindergarten to college.
"People don't really care about (facilities) until something like this happens, where the football coach leaves," he said. "The topic has been there long before June Jones set foot on our campus."
Rep. K. Mark Takai, a former UH athlete and student body president, said he was "terribly disappointed" about Jones' departure "because we could have avoided this."
"Based on what I have been hearing, the coach just wanted to be hearing some respect, and we didn't give it to him," said Takai (D, Newtown-Pearl City). "We knew what needed to be done, and those things were not done."