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UH Manoa chancellor's office puts athletics dept. out of debt

By Justin Fujioka
Published On: May 16 2013 09:40:00 PM HST

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents voted unanimously to clear Manoa athletics out of debt.

HONOLULU -

It's been a good week for University of Hawaii at Manoa Athletics Director Ben Jay.

He was welcomed with smiles Thursday night at town hall meeting that could have been a much different scene just a few nights earlier.

Earlier Thursday, the UH Board of Regents unanimously approved a plan that moves the Manoa athletic department's $13 million in accumulated debt to the Manoa chancellor's office.

UH said it will have no impact on academics or tuition.

Jay said, "With some of the shifting of funds, and the way some of this is accounted for, it certainly helps our bottom line."

Regents also approved to create a committee to oversee the department's budget.

The Manoa chancellor's office will also fund some athletic staff positions and provide in-state tuition to about 220 athletes.

UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple said, "The idea was that we support athletics here, get it in the black, and have a three-year runway during which time we try to become more competitive."

Three years that Apple said will determine the fate of the athletics program, and whether UH remains an NCAA Division I school.

"The big schools will form super conferences and I want to be part of the haves," Jay said. "The history has already shown that the super conferences, the BCS conferences right now, are garnering 90 percent of the revenues."

Jay said he hopes to make his department solvent in fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1.

And then there's the nickname controversy, which Jay said he hopes he resolved on Tuesday when he decided to change his mind from "Warriors" to "Rainbow Warriors."

"The one thing that I didn't want to do, I didn't want that issue to be clouding what we really need to get done," he said.

But for many at the town hall meeting, bringing back the "Rainbow" was something that really needed to get done.

"He's exercised true leadership," said Rainbow Warrior fan Steven Chinen. "Listen to the community and then make a decision based on that. He knew he was going to get flack for changing his mind. He knew some people would call him wishy washy. But true leadership is you do the right thing."

Lawmakers organized the town hall meeting.

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