Mortimer lends his
support to Rainbows
The UHpresident gives theBy Paul Arnett
football team some encouraging words
after yesterday's practice
University of Hawaii president Kenneth Mortimer was a little nervous when Rainbows head coach Fred vonAppen asked the players to gather around him.
Mortimer had just finished delivering a short pep-talk before yesterday evening's practice at Barbers Point, prompting the players to give him a round of applause.
"All right on the break we're up," vonAppen said. "And let's mob the president and have him break you out. That will be good for you."
As the players quickly surrounded him, Mortimer exclaimed, "What the hell does that mean?"
The players laughed as Mortimer counted, "One, two, three." Their reply, "HAWAII!"
Things might not have gone exactly as planned for Mortimer, vonAppen and UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida the past 20 months, but just before this evening practice, everyone seemed to be on the same page.
Mortimer told the players he was proud of them, how excited people in the community were of the coming season and prompted them to tell someone if they felt things weren't going as well as they expected.
"I want you to know you have the support of the university," Mortimer said. "We're going to do what we can to have a great time on Aug. 29 as we dedicate that new locker room.
"The governor in last year's appropriation put in all that renovation money for the arena. All that stuff is moving along, the facilities are getting better.
"And they're going to continue to get better. I think you'll see the evidence during your time at the university at the increased commitment to excellence particularly in our football program."
As far as vonAppen was concerned, Mortimer couldn't have sounded off any better. He stopped practice so a late-arriving Mortimer could give his address to the players, and thanked him profusely for making the long journey to Barbers Point.
"I enjoy doing this type of thing," Mortimer said. "I made a short visit in the spring and I plan to do a lot more of this in the fall.
"I told Fred, this is important. I need to work it in the schedule and make sure I get it done. I think we've tried to address some of the things Coach vonAppen feels we need to do.
"We've made some demonstrative progress. We've got these construction projects on line to improve our facilities. I hope to be able to make some announcements in a week or two about next year's budgets. I think we're moving in the right direction."
Mortimer also stressed how pleased he was at the job Yoshida was doing. As part of a plan devised by the Board of Regents, the athletic director's contract will be renewed on only a yearly basis, instead of the original three-year contract Yoshida signed in 1993.
"It's no reflection on Hugh or a bad signal," Mortimer said. "It's just a policy decision we have of limiting multi-year contracts at the level of executive managerial employees."
Such is not the case for coaches. The three-year rollover policy will remain in place. Mortimer believes stability at the head coaching level is key to having a successful program.
"We're not interested in making changes," Mortimer said. "We want continuity in our programs because it's necessary in producing quality results.
"I believe in continuity. If you set direction, like Coach vonAppen has, it takes at least two or three years to instill a philosophy. The first time you teach these young men your system, they stumble over each other.
"By the time they're in the second or third year, you should see progress. That's why we don't want to change the system too often because it breeds inconsistency."