Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, June 18, 1999

A R E N A _ F O O T B A L L

Vasconcellos suing

By Pat Bigold


Former Chaminade athletic director Mike Vasconcellos was fired as general manager of the Hawaii Hammerheads on May 11, the Star-Bulletin has learned.

Vasconcellos, who said this week that the Hammerheads are struggling to survive financially, has filed a lawsuit against the club. Meanwhile, the club is counter-suing Vasconcellos.

Dr. Blake E. Waterhouse, one of 10 team owners, was ousted as president in a board of directors coup early in May and replaced by another owner, attorney George Hetherington. Vasconcellos, who served as Chaminade's AD for 18 years, was terminated shortly thereafter.

Tamme Strickland, director of promotions, has also left the club, according to Kalei Kamakahi, who is listed as director of sales and marketing and is handling calls to the Hammerheads' office.

The Hammerheads have not made any official announcement of the changes and their league website continues to list the departed team officials.

No replacement has been named for Vasconcellos in the role of GM.

Hammerheads head coach Guy Benjamin said this week he has not assumed Vasconcellos' job.

The club, which is 5-4 and in second place in the Indoor Professional Football Leage standings, is currently in Boise, Idaho, to play a game tomorrow against the third-place Idaho Stallions (4-5). Hawaii lost to the Stallions, 63-51, last weekend at the Blaisdell Arena.

Attorney Charles Price filed on behalf of Vasconcellos while Jeff Harris, who works with Hetherington's law firm, filed the counter suit.

Vasconcellos's suit alleges that his one-year employment agreement with the team was violated. "They have refused to buy out the balance of his employment agreement," said Price.

The suit also claims that the Hammerheads violated labor laws that require an employer to pay a terminated employee all back wages owed him within a day of his termination.

"They basically wanted him to sign off on a complete release in exchange for getting payment of his wages, and when he refused, they didn't pay him his earned wages that day or the next."

Price said the club did pay Vasconcellos the following week but contends they still violated the statute and should pay him double.

Vasconcellos, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease, said he will also file a complaint with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. He claims his dismissal was partly related to his disability.

The Hammerheads allege in their suit that Vasconcellos was guilty of "poor performance and negligence" as GM.

The suit said his duties included "directing sales and marketing efforts, managing finances, coordinating game day activities and promotions, and overseeing football operations in conjunction with the head coach."

The counter suit also alleges "disloyalty and self-dealing."

The club claims that Vasconcellos used a corporate credit card for unauthorized personal expenses.

Price said there is a pretrial conference in District Court scheduled for July 26.

"I didn't want to take anything away from the players," said Vasconcellos, who never made a formal announcement about his departure.

E-mail to Sports Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin