It’s unfortunate for the University of Hawaii basketball program that Gary Payton was suspended from his job at Fox Sports 1 after being slapped with a lawsuit claiming he assaulted a woman in January.
It is my opinion — and that of any clear-thinking UH leader — that Payton is now not a suitable speaker at the men’s basketball banquet Wednesday. It would be very sad if Payton is innocent and wrongly accused, but UH can’t afford to take the chance and make what is already an awkward situation even more so.
A good last-minute replacement would be Artie Wilson. The longtime UH TV analyst is also an alumnus of the program and a successful realtor in Hawaii. He would be able to deliver an excellent message to the gathering, especially the student-athletes. Hopefully new athletic director David Matlin finds time to reach out to Wilson today.
Wilson isn’t a Hall of Famer like Payton, but he’s a great example of a guy who was in the same shoes as today’s UH players and made his life a success.