Full-Court Press

By Paul Arnett

Friday, July 23, 1999

UH football gets big
boost from auction

IT didn't take long for June Jones to figure out this auction deal might come in handy for next year's Pigskin Pig-Out.

While the auctioneer asked the 200 or so people crammed inside Murphy's Bar and Grill last night to bid on a variety of travel packages, golf outings and dinner deals with Jones or University of Hawaii president Ken Mortimer, the new Rainbow head coach took a break outside with reporters and a few of his assistants.

"We can't tell you how stoked we are over these morning practices," Star-Bulletin sports editor Joe Edwards said to Jones, who announced last spring that workouts this year would begin at 7:30 a.m. "We'll be able to do same-day stories, which is a great break for us."

Jones thought about it for a moment and said, "Hey, I didn't even consider that. Maybe next year we can have the Star-Bulletin and the Advertiser bid for whether we have morning or afternoon practices. Sounds like a plan, huh?"

It was not lost on Jones that the certificate offered by HNA to place three ads in the two major dailies produced the highest bid ($2,900) of any of the 100-something items auctioned off during the fourth annual event, which raised $70,000 for the football program. This is one coach who knows the power of the print media.

HE also was well aware that a dinner for 10 with Mortimer and his wife at their Manoa home fetched a $1,400 price tag. But there's no truth to the rumor that the winning bid was made by members of the School of Public Health.

"In all seriousness, I can't say enough for what Don Murphy has done for this program," said Jones, who confirmed that he would spend half his Mondays this fall speaking at the Quarterback Club and the other half with Na Koa members at the Waialae Country Club. "There were some really nice deals for people to bid on."

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Prospective buyers eye the merchandise at last night's
Murphy's benefit for the UH Rainbow football team.

That there were. If Murphy wasn't auctioning off a 49ers jersey worn by quarterback Steve Young or a football autographed by former UH stars Jason Elam and Maa Tanuvasa, he was asking people to bid on local golf memberships, weekend getaways to Maui and even a trip for two to next year's U.S Open at Pebble Beach.

"I was staying up late at night worrying we wouldn't be able to reach our goal of $75,000," Murphy said prior to the show. "My wife told me to quit thinking about it and go to sleep."

AS it turned out, Murphy needn't have worried. The auction produced a tidy sum - about $6,000 more than last year - that should help the financially strapped program.

"We're going to use the money for our training table and for some academic services," Jones said. "This kind of event shows the true aloha spirit of the people here."

This was one of the last public appearances for Jones. After traveling to Dallas next week for WAC media day, Jones will spend most of his time hunkered down with his staff as they prepare for the Sept. 4 season opener against talented Southern California.

"I can't wait to finally start playing some football," Jones said. "This has been a very busy six months. For me, the fun part is about to begin."

Fun is something that has been missing from the Rainbow program in recent years, but if last night's auction is any indication, people believe Jones is the right man for the job.

He not only spent time with people he knew, the former NFL coach also made a point to shake hands and pat the backs of total strangers.

"June knows what Hawaii is all about," Murphy said. "I think I speak for a lot of people when I say it's time to put the past in the past and start winning some football games."

Paul Arnett has been covering sports
for the Star-Bulletin since 1990.

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