Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Monday, April 19, 1999

Students are the heart
of UH athletics

THE future is now. And the University of Hawaii administrations -- both upper and lower campus -- need to realize that.

Sure, it is the state's university, but somehow it seems to be slowly taken away from those who ARE the university ... the students. Seats in the student section at Aloha Stadium could be lost to the general public this upcoming season because the athletic department needs to make more money.

At stake are some 570 seats on the Rainbows' sideline between the 15- and 25-yard lines. It sounds like a small, innocent number, but it could set a large and dangerous precedent.

Both men's volleyball coach Mike Wilton and men's basketball coach Riley Wallace have argued for a student section at the Stan Sheriff Center. They finally got one, but it continually shrinks.

The student tickets need to be purchased several days before a game. Otherwise, the tickets are made available to the public.

I don't know about you, but when I was in college, Friday and Saturday night plans were rarely made more than 24 hours in advance. Some nights, we'd be on our way to or from an intramural game and stop by to watch a little bit of UCLA men's volleyball.

BACK then, the doors to Pauley Pavilion were open and there was no admission charge. It being a state school, part of the registration fee allowed one to go to every athletic event free, including football and men's basketball.

Football tickets were included in the registration packet. All one needed to do was show the ticket and student I.D. to get in and grab one of 20,000 general admission seats in the student section.

Basketball was a little more complicated. Tickets were awarded by lottery, but every student was eligible to receive them. Pauley Pavilion is not that much bigger than the Stan Sheriff Center, fewer than 2,500 seats. Yet over a third of UCLA's arena is reserved for students.

Going to games, acting crazy, supporting one's school is a part of college life. Unfortunately, supporting their fellow students is beyond the means of many current students.

And this is what I meant about the future being now. Those attending UH are the alumni of tomorrow. If they cannot afford to make the connection with their school now, why think they'll want to in 10 or 20 years?

AS entertaining as Alan Hackbarth and Warren Epps are at Rainbow volleyball games, it pales in comparison to the mid-1980s when the BowZows held court at Klum Gym.

This group was made up mostly of the Rainbow swimming and diving team, but they enticed other students along the way. It was fun.

The reality is the athletic department needs to become self-sufficient. It's difficult when it is not allowed to keep its own revenues generated from parking, concessions and sales at the Rainbowtique.

One solution looked promising. The election committee of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii recommended putting the following question on the ballot in last week's ASUH elections: Would you be in favor of supporting an athletic fee?

However, the ASUH senators opposed the measure and it wasn't put on the ballot.

One solution that works at other schools is to have the students who want to support athletics pay a separate fee for an all-sport pass.

Have the guaranteed student tickets set aside and held until 24 hours before the game. If the tickets are not picked up by then, sell them to the public.

Students are the athletes. The students should be the fans.

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

E-mail to Sports Editor

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