Should UH Sports Really Be Division I?

As losses mount and attendance dwindles, you have to ask: Why is Hawaii trying to play with the big boys? Anthony Consillio photo

As losses mount and attendance dwindles, you have to ask: Why is Hawaii trying to play with the big boys? Anthony Consillio photo

I haven’t been comfortable with University of Hawaii sports program financing for many years. I loved the old Fabulous Five of basketball; then we learned about give-the-players-monetary-stuff.

I knew a lot through the years I could not report for fear of a libel suit. I consorted with a UH academics adviser coach, who freely admitted how he helped athletes do course papers.

When I taught journalism at UH, a star football back came to my class. I’d asked everyone to write a paper about their ambitions just to judge their writing ability. That guy’s was so bad I called the academic adviser coach and said, “This kid is a guaranteed F.”

He said, “I’ll have him out of your class tomorrow.” The kid played. No idea which classes passed him.

Remember Dexter Manly, the all-pro defensive end for the Washington Redskins? He was a functional illiterate who graduated from high school and Oklahoma State University and could not read until age 30.

It’s been written that O.J. Simpson was marginally illiterate at USC.

Football and basketball drive a lot of schools. My daughter went to a very marginal football school. We asked the admissions director about standards for accepting an athlete. She admitted, “Well, we try to hold to standards, but if the football coach says there’s a guy he desperately wants as quarterback and his grades aren’t all that terrific, well, we’d probably admit him.”

UH has been very good about its required grades for athletes – I always suspect it can do that because it’s not a national super team expected to rank in the top 10 yearly in the NCAA. It’s normally unlikely to be in the top 25. So there’s less alumni pressure to recruit hotshots at any academic cost.

That’s good. We graduate high among athletes in four-year universities nationwide.

But now comes the money issue.

The university “forgave” a $14 million athletics department deficit. I hate that word. It really means the university absorbed and bought it. Somebody – we taxpayers or students with their tuition and athletics fees – paid that money. It wasn’t simply “forgiven.” That word should be buried by our press forever.

Now another $2 million or more this year. More because the UH basketball team isn’t that hot.

And I’d guess next year’s football team won’t be a world beater.

Will someone please educate me on why UH needs to be Division 1-A in football and field 21 sports teams with scholarships?

Would we really lose alumni donor money by playing Cal Poly, Montana State, Portland State, Northern Arizona, Sacramento State or Southern Utah?