Legislators want to see Jones’ list of concerns
The state of the athletic facilities at the University of Hawaii - among the main criticisms cited as contributing to the departure of football coach June Jones - is expected to be addressed by lawmakers as early as next week.
After a weekend of speculation, Jones accepted yesterday the head coaching job at Southern Methodist University.
Before leaving, Jones, in a letter to friends and supporters, had listed 19 concerns that administrators had failed to address in his nine years as coach.
Sen. Norman Sakamoto and Rep. Jerry Chang, chairmen of the higher-education committees in their respective chambers, said they plan to call in administrators to discuss the concerns raised by Jones and players.
"I think if we have a high-performing administrator or coach, we need to do all we can to keep our superstars," said Sakamoto (D, Salt Lake-Foster Village).
Chang said he is most interested in seeing Jones' list of concerns.
"We know improved facilities is one of them, and hopefully we can work on that more this year," said Chang (D, Piihonua-Kaumana).
Any informational briefing before the higher-education committees would be in addition to the regular budget briefings for the university, when administrators present their financial wish lists to lawmakers for the upcoming fiscal year.
A similar informational briefing on the athletic department was held in May, after quarterback Colt Brennan complained about the poor condition of the athletic facilities, including a lack of soap in the locker rooms.
While many fans, including Gov. Linda Lingle, wished Jones well in his new job, many also expressed frustration over the university administration's failure to address Jones' long-standing concerns and then waiting until the last minute to begin contract negotiations.
Even University President David McClain apologized to fans for missteps.
"Exceptional performance deserves exceptional recognition, and your university was slow to step up," McClain said.
Frazier has born the brunt of fans' anger, but some critics also have pointed fingers at the Legislature for not addressing the needs of the university in the past.
Sakamoto noted that the priorities for the entire 10-campus university system have not always meshed with what lawmakers have felt was important.
"Sometimes we try to move things forward, but the university and the regents do have their priority system," he said.
Added Chang, "I guess (criticism) is justifiable, but when you look at the whole university system, as important as it is, has to stand in line to other priorities such as human services and health and all the safety issues."