The trouble with Ben Jay was he was asked to hit the ground running but nobody gave him a map. It’s difficult to be the new guy in town who meets the power brokers and, soon after, has to ask them for money. “Nice to meet you … is that the name on the check you’ll be writing?”
Which is why a few names need to be added to the recently announced search committee for the next UH athletic director. Here are my suggestions:
> Ronald Williams, interim president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Lots of folks, including the past governor, insist UH should receive help from HTA. So put the head guy on the committee, and maybe he’ll be willing to help.
> Shan Tsutsui, lieutenant governor. Yes, yes, Hawaii is very political. So why not invite a guy who was friendly to UH as the president of the Senate, who orchestrated all those UH events on Maui, and is on Gov. Ige’s “favorites” cell list? Conflicts shouldn’t be a concern. Politics is about connections.
> Al Chee, Hawaii manager, policy, government and public affairs for Chevron. OK, I admit I have no idea what those titles mean. But Chee is the face of Hawaii’s Chevron, and always helps UH football and volleyball. Oil is money — not as much as it was two months ago, but still — and UH athletics needs money.
> Gwendolyn Mink, educator on U.S. equality law, poverty policy, gender issues and American politics for three decades. Her mother, Patsy Mink, spurred legislation that became Title IX. She’s more than qualified to help pick an AD.
> Carl Furutani, associate director of UH-Manoa’s student recreation services. He jokingly is referred to as the “Upper Campus AD” because he runs the most successful athletic programs on the Manoa campus. The Warrior Center is the best facility on campus. It is clean, with state-of-the-art equipment, gender equitable, and it operates within its budget. Furutani is in charge. Plus, as a former UH baseball coach, he knows what it takes to navigate through all the b.s. in the athletic department.
> Mark Valencia is a prominent lawyer, Army veteran and UH football season-ticket subscriber. Valencia writes and lectures on issues affecting the health and fitness industry, served as commissioner of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps Reserves. He is involved in the Read Aloud America Program and Drugs Free Kids project. He also is undefeated in representing clients against UH.