New Business Model Needed

A recent article by Ferd Lewis in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser highlights that UH athletics are far less reliant on subsidies from the state, school or students than most of its Mountain West Conference peers, except Boise State and Fresno State and all of its future Big West opponents.

While the phrase “accumulated debt” is often thrown around when talking about UH athletics, you have to know that is underlined by a false premise: that a college athletic department should stand on its own as a business.

No actual business would continue to carry all the non-revenue sports, or even the revenue-producing ones that lose money.

They would be sold off or shut down. Title IX guarantees equality of opportunity, which is great, but it also makes it difficult to make a profit.

No business would conduct its affairs at a venue that would keep all the parking and concession revenues, and even allow an outside entity to come in and grab signage revenue by selling your events.

Now imagine that a business would consent to paying its competitors expenses for travel!

Don’t get me wrong, the stadium authority was set up in a very different era, and UH had absolutely no choice in paying for opponents’ travel, although “shared travel costs” is the greatest Orwellian phrase of this century.

Instead, let’s look at the things UH has done right, and with outstanding vision.

The UH athletic department has the most successful corporate partner program of any school in either conference. This is a tribute to not only the UH administrators who run it, but also to the Hawaii business community that participates.

UH also has the only pay-per-view package available to its fans in the entire country.

In many ways that program was well ahead of its time, and will serve as a model for other schools looking to maximize revenues.

There is hard work ahead, but it might be time to say that, under the circumstances, UH should be congratulated for a job well done, and ditto to its fans and sponsors.

* The UH baseball team heads to its final WAC tournament in Mesa, Ariz., this week with some level of uncertainty in its starting rotation.

Will Matt Sisto recover sufficiently from his groin injuries to be effective?

And can the freshmen pitchers who have contributed so well be up to the challenges of their first post-season?

One thing is certain. For all of the WAC baseball players who have professional aspirations, this tournament is a little preview.

All the books are put away, it’s baseball only, all day long, and the ballpark is a big league spring training facility.

It also will have all the pressures that a double-elimination format brings.

* Expect to hear shortly about a number of high-profile transfers into the UH football program. There are strong rumors about players from schools such as Michigan, Tennessee and Duke, who would like to become a part of the Norm Chow experience.

It would not be surprising if at least two of them end up in Manoa.