HONOLULU (KHON2) — Less than a day after Nick Rolovich announced he’s leaving UH to become the next head football coach at Washington State, the search is on for a new head coach.
Rolovich made the announcement Monday night, that he accepted a 5-year deal worth $15 million taking over for Mike Leach, who left for Mississippi State last week.
Rolovich is credited with turning the UH program around with a 28-27 record during his four-year run at the helm leading UH to three Hawaii bowl appearances.
Fans say the university should pay football coaches more to keep them but state officials say it’s not that easy.
The last time we paid a coach more than a million dollars was nearly 10 years ago, and a key lawmaker tells me that didn’t end well.
Coach Rolovich’s move to the Pac 12 Conference and a much bigger paycheck puts UH back to rebuilding mode.
State Sen. Glenn Wakai says realistically speaking, we can never really compete with the bigger universities when it comes to paying coaches’ salaries.
“Until we decide as a community that one, football is important, athletics is important, and to your point we have to be willing to pay for that, then I don’t think we’re ever going to get a coach that’s gonna be super successful and is gonna have longevity here,” said Wakai.
Coach Rolovich earned $600,000 last year after getting a $200,000 raise.
The last time UH paid a coach considerably more was 2008-2011 when Greg McMackin ran the program and earned 1.1 million a year.
Part of his salary was paid by private companies through the boosters.
“If the business community wants to pony up and feels that that’s an important facet of who Hawaii is and playing on the national stage at that competitive level then the private sector I think should be helpful to us,” Wakai added.
Wakai points out that when McMackin left, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for the private sector to step in again to help add to the coaches’ salaries.
“After he left and people weren’t happy with that there was nobody else that wanted to step up and defray the cost,” explained Wakai. “The Na Koas and Ke Anuneue’s of the world to help subsidize whatever the state is able to pay.”
For the past several years, the UH athletic department has spent more than it has earned which is the case for most universities. Wakai says Hawaii fans will have to accept that we’ll always be in a position of losing a coach to a bigger school with a much larger budget.
The state legislature approved an extra $3 million to the UH Athletic Department last year which was able to pay the raise for Rolovich and his coaches.
It’s hard to say if lawmakers will do that again this year.