The University of Hawaii athletics department will start the school year with an extra cost on top of its more-than-$4-million deficit.
It’s planning to spend about half a million dollars on cost-of-attendance stipends for student-athletes, which will be allowed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The department has money in its budget for stipends that will be offered to student-athletes for the first time. How the stipends will be given is still being worked out.
“It really comes down to, how comprehensive is your plan going to be? Are you going to take care of all the programs at a lesser amount or invest more in a limited amount of programs?” said athletics director David Matlin.
UH estimates to fully pay for the extra cost of attending, the stipend would be about $4,000. To cover 248 student-athletes, that adds up to $992,000 — nearly a million dollars.
But, Matlin told KHON2, he expects to spend half of that, possibly less. He’s leaning toward offering under $2,000, which would cost $496,000 — less than half a million dollars.
That’s on top of the $400,000 being spent on a supplemental meal program for student-athletes and $7.7 million in scholarships.
The stipends for UH athletes would cover the cost for things such as laundry, transportation and electronics. It would begin this fall, but not everyone agrees with it.
“This is just another dagger in the heart of athletics. Athletics is already running a deficit,” said Rep. Isaac Choy, D, chair for the House Committee on Higher Education.
The athletics department has a deficit of $4.2 million to $4.4 million.
Matlin said UH will try to ease its financial woes by improving programs and cutting travel costs. He also said UH is not in position where it can fully fund athletic stipends, so that’s why with the current budget, the estimate is much lower.
“First of all, he’s saying we need to pay these stipends to become competitive. Can we be half competitive? Either you’re going to be competitive or you’re not going to be competitive,” Choy said.
“When you balance academics with athletics, I think there is an argument to be had that, hey, how come you’re giving so much to athletics?” said Sen. Brian Taniguchi, D, chair for the Senate Committee on Higher Education and the Arts.
“They might see the figures and see that there’s a more than $4 million deficit and now there’s money for these stipends. How do you explain that?” KHON2 asked.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to steward our resources effectively. Our mission is student-athlete welfare. We want to be able to compete,” Matlin said.
UH officials are also trying to get more money for stipends through fundraising efforts. They’ll decide how to divvy up the stipends by August.