Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, May 4, 2001


Future MPSF men’s
volleyball playoffs
could be anchored
at UH-Manoa

Having Hawaii host would
provide revenue
and exposure

By Grace Wen

Beginning as early as next year, the University of Hawaii could be the host for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation playoffs regardless of the Warriors' position in the tournament.

In the current format, conference playoff games are held at the highest-seeded schools, with the semifinals and final hosted by the highest remaining seed after the first round.

During Wednesday's MPSF league meeting, an idea was proposed in which Hawaii would host the entire tournament.

Much will depend on UH head coach Mike Wilton's ability to return to the MPSF with a feasible proposal that includes a three-way partnership of the UH athletic department, television and the conference.

"It's not a done deal because I have to work in cooperation with the department to put together some kind of a plan," Wilton said. "But they're very interested in it being a three-year deal and then renewable perhaps on a bid basis so somebody else would have the opportunity to try to compete."

Based on the Warriors' attendance figures and UH's television contract with KFVE, Hawaii is the most likely candidate to host a tournament. UH has led the nation in attendance since 1995, while KFVE televises all the Warriors' home matches.

In 1997, Wilton proposed a similar plan where Hawaii hosts the playoffs regardless of its seed because the Warriors would have been guaranteed to make money for the league. The other coaches objected since Hawaii would have a competitive advantage.

However, the decline in participation of men's volleyball has brought about a greater urgency to generate more visibility and growth for the sport.

"At this point, it's very preliminary," MPSF commissioner Al Beaird said. "We're just in the process of discussion. We asked Coach Wilton to explore that with the administration and the athletic department at UH.

"There's unanimous interest in it. There wasn't any strong opposition. There was no formal vote because we didn't have anything concrete to formally vote on. The primary thing right now is what level of interest the University of Hawaii would have in considering that."

If a proposal is approved, the MPSF would need to restructure the eight-team playoff format. Various ideas have been proposed, including a system in which all 12 teams in the MPSF are seeded into the tournament with the Nos. 5 through 8 seeds playing the Nos. 9-12. The winners would meet the top four seeds in the quarterfinals.

"If we can come back with a reasonable package -- and my feeling is that with our marketing department and with the directorship that we have, it's a pretty easy thing to do -- it could be real likely," Wilton said. "If we could put together a win-win kind of arrangement for the university, for our department, certainly our volleyball fans would love this."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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