UH not negotiating
with Jones yet

His agent, Steinberg, says the
coach wants to stay in Hawaii

By Dave Reardon

Leigh Steinberg, the agent for Hawaii football coach June Jones, said yesterday that negotiations to extend Jones' contract or agree to a new one have not been started.

Jones, who is going into the final season of a five-year deal, said at the end of his fourth season last month that he wanted to sign a new contract quickly.

"I hope we can get it done in the next three weeks, that's my goal," Jones told the Star-Bulletin on Dec. 26, one day after the Hawaii Bowl.

To meet that goal, negotiations that have been on hold since last February (when Steinberg and UH officials unsuccessfully tried to renegotiate Jones' contract) would have to be completed less than one week from today.

"The discussions have not begun yet," Steinberg said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I've been in contact with (UH athletic director) Herman Frazier and have conveyed that June is very happy with his tenure at the University of Hawaii and he's enthusiastic about signing a long-term contract there. He would like it to be his final coaching job."

Frazier declined to speak about any specifics having to do with Jones' contract or a timetable for negotiations last night.

"We expect June to be here a long time," he said. "But we won't negotiate coaches' contracts in the newspaper."

Frazier said last week through a spokeswoman that "nothing had changed" regarding Jones' contract.

Jones, a former Hawaii player and assistant and NFL coach, has a 31-20 record at UH. He has repeatedly said he is happy as the Warriors coach and wants to stay in Hawaii, which he considers his adopted home. But he also wants a pay increase as well as salary increases for his assistants and improvements in facilities.

Last year Steinberg said Jones, who makes around $400,000 per year, wanted a pay raise that would put him among the highest-paid college coaches in the nation, which would be more than $1 million a year. That may have been a starting point for negotiations, since Jones later disputed the amount.

Yesterday, Steinberg declined to say if he's still looking for that much pay (most of which would have to come from private sources) for his client.

"Let's just say he's helped build the Hawaii team into a power and his compensation should reflect that," Steinberg said. "When I spoke with Herman he indicated that we'll be back to negotiating shortly. It will be done in a private and low-key manner."

Jones' contract includes an escape clause that allows him to leave UH at any time. But while his name continues to come up almost whenever there is an opening in the NFL or at a major college, it is very unlikely Jones will not honor the final year of his UH contract. Several sources close to the situation say Jones will be here at least through the 2003 season. That wasn't always the perception last year at this time.

Still, one problem with Jones' lack of a long-term contract -- or at least an extension or rollover -- is recruiting. Other coaches trying to get the same players as Hawaii can use Jones' situation against the Warriors in what is called "negative recruiting."

"I'm sure that is happening," Jones said.

The Warriors secured oral commitments from their first two recruits of the season (offensive lineman Michael Lafaele of Farrington and defensive back George Perry of Kahuku) only Wednesday; most other comparable schools are much farther along in getting new players.

"Yes, there has been some of that," said defensive back Ray Bass of Centennial High School in Corona, Calif., when asked if rival coaches have warned him to consider if Jones will stay at UH. "But I'm pretty confident that Coach Jones is going to be the coach at Hawaii for a long time. He seems to like it there."

On another matter, Steinberg said he hopes UH will decide to extend its sports marketing deal with his company.

"Before, marketing revenue was $500,000 a year. Now it's $1.6 million," he said. "I think it's the beginning of an incredibly dynamic situation for both sides."

Critics have said the facts that Steinberg is Jones' agent and his company has the marketing deal create a conflict of interest.

UH Athletics

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