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Full-Court Press

By Paul Arnett

Friday, August 4, 2000

Murphy goes
all out for Warriors

FIVE years ago, the price of admission to Don Murphy's first Pigskin Pigout wouldn't have put that big of a dent in your wallet.

Former head coach Fred vonAppen needed funds for a training table for the University of Hawaii football team, and thankfully, Murphy was there to provide the much-needed venue.

Tickets for the Na Koa-sponsored event were $25 -- nobody was sure how many people would come -- and by night's end, Murphy turned over a tidy sum of $39,000 to vonAppen and his fledgling staff.

"I think we had six or seven neighbor island trips and a few autographed items from NFL players for auction," Murphy said last night. "Now, we have 17 trips, and thanks to some good ties with the NFL, quite a few autographed helmets and jerseys waiting for the highest bidder."

Murphy concedes that the price of admission is high. The 250 folks in attendance were asked to fork over $100. He also said it's getting more difficult to have an event like this one because fund-raisers are more commonplace.

As an example, Na Koa is hosting another $100-a-person event Aug. 26 at the Stan Sheriff Center. When you live on an island in the middle of the Pacific, there are only so many wallets capable of pulling out a Ben Franklin without noticing it missing.

Last year's Pigskin Pigout price tag was $75. At that rate, Murphy, who underwrites the affair that now requires closing down one block of Merchant Street, was able to write a check to June Jones worth $75,000.

"You can't say enough about Murph and what he means to this program," Jones said. "In order to have a competitive Division I team, you have to be able to raise money. And he has shown over the years that he can do that."

Murphy had hoped to hit the six-figure mark last night, but fell a little short of that lofty goal. Still, the Pigskin Pigout raised about $90,000, due in part to an array of great prizes.

The silent auction included an autographed football from former 49ers quarterback Steve Young and a signed baseball by Benny Agbayani of the New York Mets.

There were gift certificates from restaurants and golf shops, including four rounds of golf at the Los Angeles Royal Vista course.

THE live auction was even better. In addition to neighbor island trips, Hawaii backers bid on an autographed helmet and football from Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana.

Major League Baseball and NASCAR tickets were also a part of the program. Even NBA star Grant Hill got in the act with an autographed basketball.

"This thing has grown from a small gathering five years ago, to an event that takes me three or four days to get ready for," Murphy said. "But it's worth it if we can keep this program moving in the right direction. What June did last year was phenomenal."

And what Murphy did last night is just what Jones needs as he prepares for his second season as head coach of a football team still in transition.

Granted, the $100 price tag is a bit steep for the average fan walking down the street. But in order to keep up with the other teams in Division I, the Warriors will need money and lots of it.

As well as things went last year for the football team, including a postseason appearance at the Oahu Bowl, the athletic department only cleared about a half-million dollars. It's a start, but more will be needed in the future if Hawaii wants to keep rubbing shoulder pads with the big boys.

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

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