Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Monday, February 23, 1998

It’s official—Sheriff’s house
is UH’s home

FOR the first time in five years, Paul Sheriff wasn't wearing black. The oldest of Stan Sheriff's three sons finally came out of mourning Friday when the Special Events Arena was officially dedicated and renamed for his late father.

The last dark cloud symbolically was lifted from above the award-winning facility. The late athletic director would have been embarrassed by the fuss.

All Stan Sheriff ever wanted was a fitting home for the University of Hawaii's arena programs, all four of which have been ranked this school year. His vision and character were the two common threads woven through speeches at Friday's ceremony.

Sheriff fought for 10,000 seats while being told 4,000 would be enough. To name the facility after him, "marks indelibly that Stan Sheriff was here," said Rick Blangiardi, former general manager of KIKU (now KHNL). "It says that Stan Sheriff made a difference.

"When I first arrived down in the quarry (the lower campus area of UH) in 1965, there wasn't much here. But it was the perfect setting holding an unknown future. Stan had the vision, he saw what it could become."

Blangiardi was referring to the athletic complex, but he could have been speaking of the entire athletic department. Sheriff negotiated UH's first local and regional sports television contracts. The result has been the most comprehensive coverage for a university's athletic teams in the country.

When hired in 1982, the Board of Regents first asked that Sheriff take Rainbow athletics to the next level. When you saw the arena sold out again Saturday, you know who took those first steps to make it happen.

Last Monday, Rich Sheriff, the center manager, and brother Mike put letters on the building that spell out more than a name. Their dad's house officially become a home.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the people of Hawaii band together for a good cause.

Witness how fast $2,000 was raised to replace the University of Hawaii-Hilo's stolen softball equipment.

It got me thinking about the George Mason men's volleyball team, which lost its young coach, Uvaldo Acosta, in a drowning accident here two weeks ago.

Acosta had planned to return to Hawaii for the NCAA Tournament April 30 and May 2. He was hoping his Patriots would be here as well, representing the East region.

It would be a fitting tribute to Acosta if Hawaii's great volleyball fans would help make it happen -- to bring George Mason back out here, even if the Patriots don't qualify for the final four.

Several things are being done to honor Acosta. The volleyball booster club has a volleyball that was signed by Acosta as part of an unrelated fund-raising project. The ball will be signed by the Hawaii and George Mason players and forwarded to Acosta's parents.

Fans also can donate the ticket money from the canceled match between the Rainbows and Patriots to a fund being set up by the UH athletic department.

What better way to show the true aloha spirit than to bring the Patriots back to Hawaii. Bring out Thomas O'Conner -- the Mason athletic director who is threatening to cut the program -- and show him men's volleyball is worth saving.

I'm sure there are all sorts of NCAA regulations to work around, but it would be worth the effort. The cost of bringing the 12 players, interim coach, trainer and athletic director is manini when compared to what Acosta gave back to the sport as a national team player and coach.

The Patriots played their first match since the tragedy Friday night, defeating the American University of Puerto Rico in four games. It would be nice to see them finish their season in Hawaii, one way or another.

Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.

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