Rep. Takai's Letter to the UH President and Chancellor

Regarding the UH Football team and Coach June Jones 

January 2, 2008
Dr. David McClain
University of Hawaii
2444 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
Dr. Virginia Hinshaw
University of Hawaii at Manoa
2500 Campus Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Dear President McClain and Chancellor Hinshaw:
I will always remember being in New Orleans on January 1, 2008. Although the end result of the game was somewhat of a disappointment, I believe that our Sugar Bowl appearance signifies a couple of things. First, it shows how far we have come with so little. Second, it also shows how far we still need to go.
I believe that this remarkable football season is just the start of greatness. I also believe that we all need to do our parts to ensure that the success of this season rolls over to many more years of greatness.
As we have done in the past, the Legislature is committed to providing construction funds to the University to renovate existing facilities and to construct new buildings. This next year, I’m working with my legislative colleagues to line-item $25 million in construction funds to renovate Cooke Field, the coaches’ offices, and the locker room and training room facilities.
During the legislative briefing in May, we were concerned about the lack of effort regarding Coach June Jones’ renegotiations. Despite Athletics Director Herman Frazier saying that he has a self-imposed deadline of starting negotiations with coaches at least two years prior to the end of contract expiration dates, we learned that nothing had been done.
At the hearing, Director Frazier committed to immediately focusing on Coach Jones’ contract. He told the members of the legislative committees that a contract proposal was being drafted.
More than six months later, I’m troubled by the lack of action from the UH Athletics Department and from Director Frazier regarding Coach Jones’ contract. Today’s The Honolulu Advertiser reports that there have been no discussions or no proposals between Leigh Steinberg and the University. If true, this is totally unconscionable.
If the contract was renegotiated two years ago, we would not only have secured Coach Jones for a few more years, but it would likely cost a few dollars less and we would not be placing our recruiting efforts for the future in jeopardy.
Today, I’m requesting you to personally get immediately involved with the negotiations with Steinberg and Coach Jones. Time is of the essence. I’ve heard much chatter within the past few days regarding Coach Jones being offered head coaching jobs at other universities and in the NFL.
What’s the replacement cost of losing Coach Jones? In mere football terms, the costs are considerable, but for the University and for the entire State of Hawaii, it’s priceless. What the both of you do today will define the University for decades. Are we going to take a quantum leap into the University’s second century? Or are we going to falter and sputter and not take advantage of this unique opportunity?
As the co-author of the constitutional amendment which gave UH more autonomy, I completely support the University making the day-to-day decisions. However, as elected officials we represent the public and how the University spends public funds in its strategic focus. I clearly believe that making every best effort to re-signing June Jones has become a strategic issue.

K. Mark Takai
State Representative