UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII ATHLETICS
E-mail likely not enough to clear Jones of UH debt
An e-mail written by then-Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier last December acknowledged a spoken agreement that football coach June Jones would not have to pay a penalty of $400,008 if he left UH before the end of his contract, sources told the Star-Bulletin.
But while that may indicate Frazier was willing to let Jones go without a buyout, language in the contract indicates it doesn't meet the standard needed to change the deal.
According to paragraph 17.0 of the contract, "This Agreement contains all the terms between the parties and may be amended only in writing signed by both parties."
The e-mail in question was sent by Frazier to Jones' agent, Leigh Steinberg, on Dec. 24, two weeks before Jones resigned from UH to be the coach at SMU.
Steinberg said Frazier orally agreed to the arrangement when the five-year contract was being put together in 2003.
"There was an explicit agreement between June and Herman Frazier on behalf of the University of Hawaii ... that after three years June would be able to accept another job opportunity without penalty," Steinberg said in a phone interview yesterday. "These oral agreements are quite common in the field of sports and always honored."
UH officials would not comment yesterday, other than to say the dispute will go to arbitration (at the school's request, per the contract) within the next several weeks.
Jones was paid $800,000 per year in his second contract at UH and makes around $2 million per year at SMU. Steinberg said he could have made much more money if he had not spent nine years as the Warriors head coach and that he tried to help UH financially.
"June went above and beyond what I've ever seen a coach do in terms of his foundation and personal dedication to attempting to enhance the financial situation of the Hawaii athletic department," Steinberg said. "(Around 2006) he offered at mid-contract to reduce his own pay by $300,000, and give 40 percent of his salary to the university for coaches salaries and facility improvement and extend his term. That offer was refused.
"His own financial welfare has never been his primary concern," Steinberg added.
Frazier could not be reached for comment.