In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic threw the world a major curveball, life has not been the same in nearly every phase. But as time has gone on, so has optimism towards a gradual return to normalcy.
Those sentiments are no different for University of Hawaii athletics director David Matlin, who remains hopeful that the school’s teams will able to compete again in the fall.
“I think I’m more optimistic today than I was a few weeks ago,” Matlin said. “All we can do is prepare to start on time. We have the different scenarios. I’m optimistic, but if we have to start a little late, we still gotta be ready at some point so we’re just preparing our university’s task force and our athletic task force to return to play in a safe manner.
“We’re gonna be ready, and I am optimistic. But the virus controls the timeline, not really us.”
The NCAA’s cancellation of its winter and spring sport championships back in March has gutted some athletic programs across the nation financially. Virtually every school in the nation has lost money, and others have been forced to cut certain sports, such as Bowling Green and Furman cutting its baseball programs.
Other schools have adjusted to the times in different ways. When the NCAA announced that it would allow senior spring sport athletes to return in 2021, some schools have opted out, including Wisconsin, a Power Five school.
Matlin says he’ll handle how to deal with the school’s financial shortcomings on a case-by-case basis. Senior members of the 2020 UH men’s volleyball team that had national championship aspirations have already announced their return in 2021.
“It is all a case-by-case situation. Our core values right now, we want to keep educating young men and women, keep their scholarships enforced and keep people working productively,” Matlin said. “Those are our core values, so our goal is to continue. You want to continue with the sports that we have now. You definitely look at what other people are doing, but that’s where we are right now.”
But for now, Matlin says he’s proud of how athletes at UH have handled the coronavirus crisis. The academic year for UH concluded last Friday. University of Hawaii student-athletes posted an APR score of 984, the best score the department has ever posted.
“I think it’s a shot in the arm. This is our best ever (score), to go from 981 to 984,” Matlin said. “It’s our first time ever being above the national average. It’s something to really be proud of and it’s just great work by our student-athletes, coaches and staff.”
Matlin also revealed in the interview that head baseball coach Mike Trapasso would be retained for at least another season.
“Mike and I have spoken, and he’ll be our coach next year. The 2020 team was off to a great start,” Matlin told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “Had some great games against Vanderbilt and Oregon and I think they were trending 18, 19, 20 wins before the Big West season started. We’re looking forward to the 2021 edition of Rainbow Warrior baseball.”
Trapasso has coached UH for a total of 19 seasons, and is the program’s only head coach in its history besides Les Murakami.