Newly appointed University of Hawaii president David Lassner says he is committed to the athletics program at University of Hawaii at Manoa.
His support comes despite the fact that the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warrior football team is coming off a 1-and-11 season and ticket sales for the upcoming season have plummeted.
As of May 31, only 12,300 packages have been purchased and just 67 percent of last year’s season ticket holders have renewed to this point.
“I absolutely believe in the importance of intercollegiate athletics for students and student athletes and what it does for their development and growth and especially, frankly, for us in Hawaii when we give our high school student athletes the opportunity to compete, develop as athletes, and most importantly to earn college credentials to help them for the rest of their lives,” Lassner told KHON2’s Kirk Matthews.
Lassner admits the school has a resource problem.
“We’re trying to run a Division 1 athletics program without investment of public dollars or substantial investment, and that is a bold task that is seldom accomplished,” he said. “Most of the schools that make money with athletics are in the mega conferences and they have extremely lucrative TV contracts which translates into a lot of money to spend on facilities, recruiting, great teams which builds on itself.
“I don’t come in with any specific brilliant ideas. Obviously the stadium and the way the current stadium, the amount of upkeep it requires, the business arrangements with UH, are not optimal for UH,” he continued. “It’s not like anybody is making money at this, but that stadium just needs a lot more care and feeding than anybody is able to put into it right now.”
Lassner says athletics director Ben Jay has laid out a financial plan to raise more private dollars.
“The community needs to help and step up on this as well,” he said.
Watch the video for the full interview.