Possible Solutions

At the end of Friday’s column I asked that if anyone had ideas about how to solve the fiscal problems at University of Hawaii athletics to share them. Some of you took me up on it:

Dear David:

Thank you for your article in this morning’s Star Advertiser (“No Easy Answers to UH’s Athletic Budget Troubles”).

I have a few comments:

1.     UH, the university, and the athletic department in particular, is experiencing what every family, business and other enterprise in Hawaii is facing —- escalating operating costs.  My understanding is that the athletic department’s aggregate fixed operating costs (salaries, facility management and maintenance, supplies, rentals, repairs, insurance, transportation, etc.) are increasing at higher rates than in the past.  Every islander knows this who purchases a half-gallon or milk or a gallon of gasoline.  The stadium issue and travel subsidies aside, like Hawaii’s families, it is the day-to-day cost of living that is becoming less manageable.  UH won’t solve its cost challenges until they are solved for the state in general.

2.     There are, however, some creative ways to stem the incoming tide of red ink

·         Northwestern University’s “Purple Pricing” —- innovative new pricing system where ticket prices may go down over time based on consumer demand, but will never increase  — NU squeezed several hundreds of thousands of additional dollars out of their football schedule using “Purple Pricing”

·         Form a state corporation along the lines of the non-profit corporation that owns the Green Bay Packers   —- Packer Backers can buy non-revenue shares in the corporation (when they are available)  — a few years ago the corporation issued another million or so shares to fund a major upgrade of Lambeau Field  — the shares are so revered they are discussed at cocktail parties and passed on to heirs

·         Here is some creativity in athletic-related fund-raising:  Texas Residents Can Now Reserve Shares of E.J. Manuel Fantex, a start-up looking to sell stocks tied to athletes’ earnings, has announced that eligible residents of Texas can place reservations for shares linked to E.J. Manuel of the Buffalo Bills, MarketWatch reports.  Perhaps UH graduates playing in the NFL could form a hui and be the source of Hawaii’s version of E.J. Manuel Fantex.

Michael Sacharski


Dear Dave,

I read your column today and have a solution to UH’s financial problem. Although it is drastic, it is the cause of the problem.  There are too many teams that bring in little or NO income such as softball, sailing, track, swimming and women’s basketball. These team travel, are given uniforms, and have paid coaches.

Although it will be drastic to cut some sports out of the athletic program, maybe it will be necessary.

A wonderful philanthropist is Doris Buffett, sister of billionaire Warren Buffett,  who is giving away money to worthy causes.  Log on to www.sunshinelady.org to contact her. Maybe she’ll finance the UH Athletic Program.


Howzit Dave.
I just read today’s (Friday 5/30/14) column by Ferd Lewis. Are you two guys in cahoots?

Seems to me, according to what I read in your column(s) they are related. Is Oceanic or ESPN hurting for lack of funds? Oh yeah,not to mention the Big West. My impression, although based on limited knowledge, is that U.H. athletics are being hijacked by big business and not getting a fair share. Same thing with “our politicians” with big business and out of control development. Jade Moon touts a sustainable Hawaii? Are you kidding? Oh Yeah,getting back to U.H., who’s in charge of the contracts and deals with these guys? The so called Regents?

Who’s idea was it to buy out the contracts for coaches and administrators?

The Regents gotta go!

Name withheld by request


Dave – At many institutions like my own, The University of Texas at San Antonio, we asked students to vote on whether they wanted to pay more to support the start of football about 5 years ago. They voted and spoke with their votes and now we have one of the most successful early career football programs around. If there is a referendum, it should be first put to the students. Your point is well taken about a general referendum among the electorate, although Hawaii is unique since there are no major professional sports teams and UHM fills that gap.
Alan R. Shoho, Ed.D.
Associate Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Support
Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
The answer to the UH budget woes is quite simple. Treat the budget as if it was your own money and make certain the checkbook balances at the end of each month.
There! That wasn’t so difficult, was it? Or is it? I guess the best and the brightest are not always who they think they are.
Rick Ornellas


  1. Old Diver June 1, 2014 1:13 pm

    It’s a revenue problem and a public perception problem The program is already cut to the bone and more cuts to the budget will hurt revenues even more. Maximizing revenues through donations, television and ticket sales is what we expect from the department. Most in the public don’t believe UH is doing it’s best at raising revenues and or don’t care if the athletic department goes under. Directing more tax dollars towards the athletic department will be a hard sell due to this perception. The numerous flubs combined and two boring and losing football seasons will have to be remedied to restore public confidence in the program. Many believe General Shinseki was not responsible for the VA’s failings but resigned to restore confidence in the department. We may need some people in the athletic department to do what’s in the best interest of the department and resign.

  2. islandman June 1, 2014 2:24 pm

    You can cut some sports, but you’ve got to keep some/ many non-revenue sports due to Title IX.

  3. tommui June 2, 2014 9:51 am

    The football program does make money. Women’s volleyball also produced revenue. If the Regents/Apple wants the AD to be run as a business, you have to get rid of the other sports programs.

    However, if you have, say 90 scholarships given to the footbsll players – presumably men – whether want to or not, the like equivalent must be given to women’s sports.

    Title IX is Federally mandated and like a lot of Federal laws, the funding comes from the State.

    What the State Legislature should do is fund the Title IX programs, at least to the extent of what is the value of the men’s football scholarship.

    You could cut down the men’s scholarship numbers – but you will also probably have to enter a more less-competitive football division. And of course that raises the problem of whether the program will be able to make a profit.

    Forget about trying to reduce the moneys paid to Mainland teams. We are stuck with that

  4. Manoa Mist June 2, 2014 12:52 pm

    1. Legalize marijuana in Hawaii and grow and supply the world with medical and/or legalized pot. Tax revenues for Hawaii would be huge and help pay for all state needs.
    2. Run a state lottery where proceeds would benefit education and help fund state programs like the UH athletic department.
    3. Hire competent coaches and athletic directors.
    4. Legalize gambling on cruise ships in Hawaiian waters with all benefits going toward education and state programs like the UH athletic department.
    5. Enter into a public/private partnership with Oracle where Oracle products are used by state government and Larry Ellison helps support the university and state education system.
    I got all the answers folks. But nobody wants to listen.

  5. man eating apple June 2, 2014 2:29 pm

    Why would Larry Ellison want to support UH instead of a real NBA franchise? Begging billionaires for money is not thinking outside of the box. Cutting programs that don’t make money today is also a stupid short-sighted “idea”. If WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL can make money, then why can’t the basketball teams? Moreover, ask yourself why does the women’s volleyball team make money?

Comments are closed.