Former Olympian and UH athletic director Herman Frazier has big plans for UH's newly rainbow-colored track.

On the right track

UH's new athletic director
is slowly achieving his vision

By Cindy Luis

HE laps seem endless on this particular relay.

There are times when Herman Frazier feels he's handing off the baton to himself. And there are a lot of batons to get a grip on for the new Hawaii athletic director, ones marked "Budget" ... "Scheduling" ... "Coaches Contracts" ... "Ticket Sales."

University of Hawaii

But the 47-year-old Frazier knows where the finish line is, even if he's not sure of the distance to get there. His immediate goal is to have Hawaii at the top of the Western Athletic Conference in every sport.

"I really, really enjoy the community support the university has, and the upper administration support we have," Frazier said. "It's a big difference from how it was at UAB and Arizona State.

"What I've got to do is bring all that support together, do the best job I can do and make this one of the best athletic departments in the conference."

He knows it won't be easy or cheap. Adding to what he considers a seriously understaffed administration in the athletic department is a priority.

But so is finding a replacement for Virginia on the 2003 football schedule, a game the Cavaliers pulled out of last March. He's talked to officials from several Pac-10 schools, with Washington seemingly the most promising.

However, "it's not going to work out for next year," Frazier said, citing a conflict the Huskies had. But that doesn't mean another Pac-10 team won't fill in and it likely will be an ESPN game during that Thanksgiving weekend.

Another priority is getting the men's programs in compliance with the WAC. Hawaii offers seven men's sports, but only six of the nine the WAC sponsors; the Warriors need one more.

Men's track is one sport assistant athletic director Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano has suggested as an addition, something that would help the football team by offering an offseason sport for the players.

Frazier is a little biased toward that choice, having been the lead-off runner for the gold-medal-winning U.S. 4x400 relay team at the 1976 Olympics. But, he says, the next UH men's sport will likely be cross country.

"I think cross country could be the steppingstone to track," said the captain of the 1977 national champion ASU men's track team. "Cross country is easier to start. You need less bodies than track and it's easier to finance. If we have to add a sport right away, that's the most logical."

But Cooke Field is nearly ready, having undergone a $1.7 million renovation.

Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier wants UH's new track to attract world-class competition.

"I'm glad I didn't have to look for money for that," Frazier joked.

Frazier, a U.S. Olympic Committee vice president, is also thinking elite collegiate and international track meets could be hosted by UH. He has spoken with Jimmy Carnes, executive director of the U.S. Track Coaches Association, about a marquee intercollegiate meet at Cooke Field in the near future.

This past week he began discussions with Jeannette Bolden, coach of perennial women's track power UCLA, for a dual meet during spring break. The Bruins finished second at the last NCAA championship.

The new A.D. would also like to use his USOC connection to help make the state of Hawaii the stopping place for national teams en route to competition around the Pacific Rim. There has been talk for the past 20 years to make Hawaii a U.S. Olympic Training Center of Excellence, but there has not been much progress.

Frazier sees an opportunity, though. The Summer World University Games are scheduled for next Aug. 16-26 in Taegu, South Korea, and he would like to have Honolulu as the processing center for the U.S. team to receive uniforms, credentials and medical clearance en route to the competition.

Chicago is slated to be the processing center, but "I'll be trying to get them to do it over here," Frazier said. "I've mentioned to one member that I'm going to put pressure on the committee by leaking it to all the athletes that I've extended an invitation to come to Hawaii. We'll see how the committee votes go then."

Frazier enjoys his role on the USOC and has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the presidency in 2004. He became involved with the governing body after he and the rest of the U.S. team were not allowed to compete in the 1980 Games in Moscow because of the boycott.

"I think being on the committee really helps me be a better administrator," he said. "A lot of issues I deal with at the international level are similar to ones I deal with at the collegiate level. It's helped me develop my thinking processes, my ideas of how I think as an administrator.

"Being in track has also helped. If I start out in Lane 4 and my scouting report told me you were going to do one thing and you started to do something different, I can't call timeout and ask about it. In track, you have to think on your own. I think that's helped me in my pursuits as an administrator."

It should come as no surprise that this relay runner intends to be a hands-on athletic director. He expects to be directly involved in everything from football scheduling to making sure season-ticket renewals are sent out early to make sure fans can purchase season tickets even after a sport has begun.

"I'm not afraid to ask questions, and I've asked a lot of questions so far," Frazier said. "I'm still waiting on the answers, especially with the way tickets are sold. We have to be customer-friendly and we have to find ways to make it work."

And work is what he intends to do. He said he wants to be on every WAC committee he can.

"I want to see what we're doing, how we're doing it and who's making the decisions," he said. "Are we wedded to the WAC? It's our conference. But if there's ever a movement in collegiate sports, then I've got to fight for whatever is best for our institution."

He summarized his first weeks on the job as "non-stop." But, he said, that's just his normal, high-energy lifestyle.

"The hardest part of the job is for people here to get to know me, and know what kind of person I am," Frazier said. "I have a vision of where I want to take the program, what I want to do. It's going to take time to get to that point, but I've seen a total embracing of the program by the community.

"The best part about this job is there are a lot of things you can do here and be successful."

His personal track meet has begun.

UH Athletics

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