More familiar faces might be gone at UH


POSTED: Sunday, February 22, 2009

Call the University of Hawaii athletic department office sometime after next week, and there's a good chance the boss himself answers the phone.

“;Everybody's going to be doing their share, including me,”; Jim Donovan says.

That's because Margie Okimoto - secretary to Donovan, and the five previous UH athletic directors - is retiring.

Okimoto will certainly be missed by the entire lower campus. And that would hold true even if someone were being hired to replace her.

The soon-to-be-empty desk outside Donovan's office is another sign of the times. Okimoto's is one of five athletic department positions that will remain unfilled, perhaps for many months, Donovan says. He says the total savings is $400,000 a year in salary and benefits.

“;Times are tough,”; he says. “;Why should we be any exception?”;

And coaching pay won't be immune to downsizing.

A lot of people around here don't like Herman Frazier, but some coaches do - because he got them significantly higher salaries.

There's a strong possibility at least one six-figure-salaried coach, maybe two, will be gone as soon as next year. And if that happens, Donovan won't be afraid to scale back the compensation for their replacements, especially if their resumes aren't extensive.

Plenty of issues must be considered, the market's competitive forces and gender equity among them.

As for cutting a sport, Donovan reiterated yesterday that he doesn't think it will happen, but it could if the economy doesn't get better within a couple of years.

Folks in the know quickly dismiss talk around Les Murakami Stadium this weekend that baseball could get the ax. Many powerful people still back the program, and a lot of money has been invested in gussying up the stadium.

There's a possibility, however, that the coach could be sent packing. Mike Trapasso is in the final year of his contract, and the Rainbows have never won a conference championship and have made it to just one regional going into his eighth season.

Murakami won with a blend of island and mainland players. Trapasso has not had good fortune with local recruiting outside of Mid-Pacific Institute. That's one reason there's so much attention on freshman Kolten Wong, from Kamehameha-Hawaii.

UH baseball doesn't make a profit anymore. But it's baseball, and this is a baseball town.

We've been waiting for a Rainbows resurgence for a long time now. This is the program people chose to watch instead of Barry Bonds and Tony Gwynn, part of the reason the Hawaii Islanders withered away.

The problem for UH is you can't live off tradition forever, even on the diamond. Fans in their 20s and 30s have no idea who Joey Meyer is, never heard of Chuck Jackson.

Memories fade, but red ink doesn't.

An 0-3 start, even against a team as good as UC Irvine, doesn't help. Of course, baseball isn't the only UH sport that doesn't pull its weight financially or hasn't won as much as the fans would like.

And if they call to complain to the athletic director they might not even have to wait on hold.


Reach Star-Bulletin columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).