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Hawaii AD clarifies ‘football going away’ comments

Ben Jay AP

More than a few eyebrows were raised yesterday when, at a Board of Regents meeting Monday, Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay was quoted as saying that “[t]here’s a very real possibility of football going away.”

According to Jay, the university’s athletic program will operate at a $2.1 million deficit this season and it has done so 11 of the past 13 years. Football is easily the most revenue-producing of all the sports, but it also eats through the most money. Add in the uncertain impact autonomy will have on all FBS football programs, and there’s a sense of trepidation throughout the schools in non-Power Five conferences.

A short time after those comments went public, however, Jay attempted to cram the toothpaste back from whence it came.

In a statement released by the university very late Monday night, Jay appears to claim his reported comments were taken out of context

My comments at the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics’ meeting were made in order to convey a sense of urgency regarding the need to address our current funding model. In no way was I indicating that a decision on program reduction of any sport was under consideration. Rather, I was suggesting that the department’s financial situation required that all possible scenarios be reviewed. Hopefully, going forward, there will be a priority placed on discussing the future financial needs of the UH Athletics Department. President David Lassner has expressed his support and we’ll call upon our many loyal stakeholders to help us ensure that we remain competitive within the future landscape of intercollegiate athletics. We owe that to our student-athletes and passionate fans.

“A very real possibility of football going away” is quite a long ways from “[i]n no way was I indicating that a decision on program reduction of any sport was under consideration,” but it’s Jay’s story and I’m sticking to that.

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8 Responses to “Hawaii AD clarifies ‘football going away’ comments”
  1. binarymath says: Aug 19, 2014 9:52 AM

    Geography meets Economics. Few teams travel further than Hawaii each year. The MWC conference logs an incredible amount of travel to play its conference schedule.

    That creates a strain on revenue. Toss in the need to play quality non-conference opponents (usually on the road) to improve the conference profile. The added publicity is good, but the incremental revenue probably does not cover the cost.

    Now add the prospect of competing against the big conferences that will start paying players (directly), and the future looks grim.

    The only surprising thing about the article is the backtracking by the AD that “needed” to be done after he had stated the obvious.

    21st century college football may no longer be a fit for Hawaii. It’s a shame that no one is allowed to simply say that.

  2. eidolon21 says: Aug 19, 2014 10:26 AM

    step one: Fire the overpriced quitter AD

  3. mogogo1 says: Aug 19, 2014 11:39 AM

    I wish Hawaii and all the other smaller programs the best but things look bleak to me. Within a few years college football will look completely different. Schools like Hawaii won’t even be playing the big Power 5 teams. And guys actually enrolled in classes at Power 5 schools will be viewed as oddities–It’ll be a handful of backups getting their degrees while the stars will be full-time football players likely making more than college faculty.

    And the teams will be officially detached from the schools. The Big House will be leased to the “Wolverine Football Foundation” and they’ll completely run themselves outside the regular university system. They’ll be paying more to assistant coaches than schools like Hawaii have budgeted to run their entire athletic department.

  4. scbaby2013 says: Aug 19, 2014 12:18 PM

    Very sad outlook but I hope schools like Hawaii stay in cfb

  5. binarymath says: Aug 19, 2014 3:20 PM

    eidolon21 says:
    Aug 19, 2014 10:26 AM

    step one: Fire the overpriced quitter AD.

    We anxiously await steps 2-10 of your bold and visionary plan.

    You know, the part where you are able to generate revenue, meet budget, and recruit athletes to play so many time zones away that their families won’t even get to see the kid in highlights – let alone actual games.

    Once you have that, please enlighten us with your thoughts on how you will maintain or upgrade facilities that even have the NFL Pro Bowl wanting to leave paradise.

  6. irishlad19 says: Aug 19, 2014 3:23 PM

    The AD makes economic sense–is the state legislature ready to subsidize football to keep it going?

  7. justanobserver says: Aug 20, 2014 12:27 PM

    binarymath
    hits the nail directly on the head. As for his comment: “21st century college football may no longer be a fit for Hawaii,” I simply would add at the end of the sentence: AND A VERY LARGE NUMBER OF OTHER SCHOOLS.

    As the new model for college football continues to develop I see the HAVES only growing fewer in number while the HAVE NOTS continue to grow.

    Program size, overall costs and competitiveness in terms of facilities, the ability to attract quality coaches/players will continue to take their toll. The number of institutions who see college football being worth the investment will decline, as will those who see college football as being important to the college/university in terms of it achieving its educational mission.

    In the end, I see the number of programs willing to continue playing at the top echelon of the game declining by as much as half. As a result, for the have nots to continue playing football, another division within the college ranks will have to be created — or bye-bye football.

  8. corvusrex96 says: Aug 20, 2014 12:51 PM

    Hawai’i as a state relies on tourism more so than the other 49. Perhaps the chamber of commerce should subsidize the football program. It is free advertisement and likely many of the home games several players families use it as a vacation

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