LaBoy not practicing
because of school

The defensive lineman is trying
to make sure he's eligible
for the Hawaii Bowl

Hawaii senior defensive end Travis LaBoy did not practice this week in order to catch up on schoolwork so that he might be eligible for Thursday's Sheraton Hawaii Bowl against Houston, LaBoy said last night.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Who: Hawaii Warriors (8-5) vs. Houston Cougars (7-5)

When: Thursday, 3 p.m., Hawaii time

Where: Aloha Stadium

TV: Live, ESPN

Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM

"I'm healthy as can be," LaBoy said after yesterday's practice, the last half of which he attended, but did not participate in. "I'm just waiting for my grades to come out now. I'm ready to go (physically)."

LaBoy said he took his last two finals yesterday, and spent time he normally would at practice this week writing papers and studying for the tests.

The final grade postings will be done Tuesday.

According to a Western Athletic Conference rule, it must be certified that all players passed at least six units (normally two classes) in the fall semester to be eligible for Thursday's bowl game.

LaBoy admitted he fell way behind in his coursework this semester.

"I missed a lot of classes, a lot of school. I sacrificed school for the team. Now it's down to the wire," he said.

LaBoy was previously on academic probation, but he achieved a 3.2 grade point average last spring. He was named the Warriors' most valuable player and voted the WAC defensive player of the year by league coaches.

Last year, UH did not comply with the six-unit rule, as school officials said the end of the semester was too close to the game to get all the grades certified. As a result, the Warriors ended up using an ineligible player (quarterback Tim Chang) and being fined $5,000.

Two weeks ago, coach June Jones threatened to keep his team out of this year's game if the players' grades weren't certified in time. Last night Jones said he is pleased so far with the certification process this year.

"We have a lot of approvals already. It's kicking in. I'd say we have a large majority," Jones said. "I would think we'll have everybody, but you can't worry about what you can't control."

Rumors have been rampant that LaBoy -- a lock to be picked in the NFL Draft next spring -- would not play in Thursday's game.

"It doesn't bother me," LaBoy said. "Everything's speculation. People talk -- they have the right to say whatever they want, rumors or not. So it doesn't bother me one bit. It comes with the territory. I just got to focus on what I've got to do to be ready to play."

Moving day: The Warriors left campus for the Sheraton Surfrider after practice.

Jones was asked if there's any difference.

"Nothing really. Other than nicer rooms," he said.

The Cougars arrived late yesterday, and the traveling party of 240 (just under 100 players, with the balance made up of coaches, staff, family and fans) is staying at the Sheraton Waikiki. The first practice is tomorrow afternoon.

"We're excited about being here," associate athletic director Chris Burkhalter said. "The guys will enjoy the evening and get some sleep in."

Merry Christmas, Coach: Houston coach Art Briles will receive a new contract after leading the Cougars to a bowl game in his first season.

Athletic director Dave Maggard said he has a verbal agreement with Briles and that further details of the new contract would be provided after Thursday's game.

"We want to establish stability and continuity with our football program, and a new contract is a step in that direction," Maggard said.

Briles led the Cougars to a 7-5 record this season. This is Houston's first bowl game since losing to Syracuse in the 1996 Liberty Bowl.


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