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Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, February 15, 2000

R A I N B O W _ S P O R T S

Wahine track
or paddling?

The University of Hawaii is
taking a closer look at canoe racing
to meet NCAA gender
equity requirements

By Pat Bigold


Although a women's track and field program for the University of Hawaii was approved by the school's Board of Regents last month and coaching applications are being received, athletic director Hugh Yoshida said it might not fly.

"Right now, we're evaluating," said Yoshida. "I think we've taken a step back to evaluate what is the best-case scenario for us."

The university is in an extension of a six-year plan to bring itself into full compliance with the Title IX federal gender equity law, and track and field has been one of the target sports in that plan.

But Yoshida said that a Title IX consultant, Valerie Bonnette of California, hired recently to "look at where we are in terms of compliance," suggested canoe paddling as an option to implementing track and field.

"I thought it was not an option because it wouldn't be run by the NCAA," Yoshida said. "But in our discussion, she said you can sponsor any sport as long as you run it like any other integrated sports team you have in your program. Hire a full-time coach, give scholarships, give schedules where the kids can go out and compete against different teams out there, provide academic support."

Yoshida said a survey done on campus in 1995 found strong support for canoe paddling.

"Here's a sport that originated in Hawaii, a sport that is indigenous to all the South Pacific islanders, a sport that has a lot of interest among the gals statewide, as well as in the California area," he said.

"There are enough international canoe paddling programs that they're looking to incorporate it into the Olympic games. If we started it, we'd be the first intercollegiate program to have a program of that nature."

But why not women's track and field?

Hawaii had a strong program between 1972 and 1985 featuring national standouts like long jumper Gwen Loud. And it's been argued that a coach with mainland connections could revive the program.

But Yoshida said the poor condition of the Cooke Field track and long-term plans for installing a soccer field in the middle of it are reasons why the sport may not be practical for spring 2001.

"We don't have the appropriation to fix our track, and it would cost us $500,000 to a million bucks," said Yoshida. "We can't really run here, and we would have to go somewhere else, probably at high schools.

"We would have to go out and be at the mercy of the different high schools."

Yoshida said long-term plans are to install a soccer field inside the track oval, thus enlarging the oval.

He said it would be unwise to do short-term repairs on the current track and then tear it up when the larger soccer/track facility is laid out.

There is speculation that track and field could be on the back burner for up to three years.

Yet the regents have approved salary ranges and classification for head coach, associate coach and assistant coach of the women's track and field program.

Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohano-hano, assistant athletic director and senior woman administrator, said the jobs were advertised a week ago and she already has received formal applications. The deadline for submitting them is Feb. 29. She said that she plans to hire by May 1.

She said that she has been receiving inquiries about track coaching jobs for the past year or so. Some came from assistant coaches of major Division I programs, and a more recent inquiry was made by an internationally known middle-distance champion.

"It's not uncommon we advertise and then there are certain things that happen in our program that cause us to put it on hold," Yoshida said.

Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano said she wouldn't oppose a canoe paddling program but believes that the school would be better served by the prestige of NCAA competition in track and field.

She admits that funds for the Cooke Field track's repair are still on the school's request list. But Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano said there are other substandard athletic facilities in use on campus.

She said funds have been requested to also fix the tennis courts, gymnasium floors and diving platform.

Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano said the track and field head coach would conduct the cross-country and outdoor and indoor track programs.

"We need more opportunities for women to come closer to compliance with Title IX, so that's one reason why track and field was chosen," she said.

Moniz-Ka-ho'ohanohano admitted that Hawaii would be at a disadvantage with indoor track competition because there are no indoor tracks in Hawaii.

But she said that Hawaii's team would participate in the minimum number of mainland indoor meets.

Asked how the canoe paddling program would find competition without an NCAA conference, Yoshida said the Wahine team would compete locally, nationally and internationally.

"We could go to the regattas, like the Catalina Regatta, there's a long-distance race in Tahiti, there's the Molokai crossing canoe race in the fall, the regattas ongoing in the summer and prior to the end of school," he said.

"All we're saying is that we need to look at another option."
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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