Jones says
disclosure will
cost the school

Keeping details of
his contract secret is in
the "best interest of
the school," he says

Hawaii football coach June Jones seems resigned to the fact that details of his compensation contracts will be made public. But that doesn't mean he likes it.

Jones said disclosure of his two five-year UH contracts -- including the new one he hasn't signed yet for $4 million -- doesn't do anyone any good.

"That's what's got to be done. I've never had anything to hide with it. I had an agreement that it wouldn't be divulged. It's not because of me, I have nothing to hide," Jones said after yesterday morning's practice at UH.

On Thursday, the state Office of Information Practices issued an opinion letter to UH concluding public interest outweighs Jones' privacy, and that the contracts should be disclosed. UH spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said the information will be made public Monday.

Jones said he had handshake deals with former and current athletic directors Hugh Yoshida and Herman Frazier that certain contract details would not be disclosed.

Frazier declined comment on the issue.

"It was in the best interest of the school," Jones said. "The athletic directors and myself both felt that was the situation. That's what it's about."

Citing Jones' status as a state-paid employee and public figure, both daily Honolulu newspapers, a television station and UH journalism professor Beverly Keever made formal requests for Jones' contract.

Jones declined to discuss details of his agreement with the ADs, but he said that disclosing information in his contracts will "cost the school money."

"I'm not going to get into it. Hugh and Herman and I know what the reasons are. We explained them to the OIP. ... They obviously know what's in the best interest of the people better than we do. ... What we were trying to do is save the school money. And obviously they feel they know what is more important."

Jones said his new contract won't cost taxpayers any more than the one he originally signed in 1999 for $400,000 per year because of private donations. He was asked if he is concerned about UH releasing the names of the donors.

"That won't happen. Let me tell you that. That will not happen," Jones said.

His new contract was approved at $800,016 plus incentives by UH's Board of Regents in June and was to go into effect July 1. Jones has not signed the contract yet. He said his agent, Leigh Steinberg, is still reviewing it.

"I haven't really seen and talked to anybody about it. I know it's very close to getting done," he said. "We'll see what happens."

Jones said disclosure of his contract has become a political football, and he took vague but sweeping rips at the state's power structure.

"They always seem to know, legislators, what's best for everybody else, and obviously they've proven that by the conditions of our schools and the conditions of our university right now. This is the reason I was feeling the way I was ... it was an agreement in the best interest of the school, not in the best interest of me. ...

"In my eyes they've proven they're incapable of doing that. Not just them, but look at our schools, they can't even get books into the high schools.

"What was a positive thing has turned into a negative thing by the interests of a few attorneys and legislative people that have no clue whether it's pumped or stuffed. And that's how I feel about it."

Jones said he has turned down other more lucrative coaching offers to remain at UH.

"This is what kind of amazes me. I've compromised probably personally $8-10 million the past four years, personally to stay here and do this job. I'm trying to save the school money. This contract is not going to cost the taxpayers anymore than it did in 1999. I made that mandatory."

Junior quarterback Tim Chang said he backs up his coach's right to privacy over public interest in his compensation.

"He's a state employee, but what he does out here is so great for the community and state. He helps out the economy, UH's marketing. He's helping me with all the (Heisman Trophy) hype and everything. So his contract is his business. ... I think he gets paid well because he does a very good job. And that's the bottom line," Chang said.

"To me it really doesn't matter. I have no side to take. All I know is the man gets paid well because he does a great job. His results have proven it and we're gonna play hard for him and try to make him even more money."


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