Football booster club hopes UH concert fiasco doesn't hurt donations

Football booster club hopes UH concert fiasco doesn't hurt donations

Honolulu (HawaiiNewsNow) – Boosters of the University of Hawaii Warriors football team hope the Stevie Wonder concert fiasco does not lead to a decrease in donations to the team's nonprofit support organization or to other UH sports.

The UH athletics department is already about $10 million in the red.

Warriors Head Football Coach Norm Chow spoke to members of the Na Koa Football Club Monday during lunch at the Willows Restaurant in Moiliili.

About 60 members of the club attended the luncheon.  They are among the 1,000 people who donate anywhere from $20 to $5,000 or more a year to support the U-H football team.

They have watched the Stevie Wonder blunder this summer and its aftermath and have been shaking their heads.

"I think it's unfortunate the way it was handled on upper campus.  Kinda say that it's a CYA situation, the way it seemed to me.  But I will always support the student athlete," said Dana Chandler, a Na Koa member who works in a real estate office and lives in Palolo.

Na Koa invested about $115,000 last year on state-of-the art video equipment and software to help the football coaches and players analyze video and improve the team's performance.

The group also spends nearly $250,000 a year to send football players to summer school, when they can take more intense lab courses, which are difficult to manage during the season when they're traveling.

One Na Koa board member was asked if she's worried about fund raising fallout from the events of the summer.

"No, not for Na Koa.  Especially with the football season starting," said Dara Young, a UH grad who's been on the board for about the last year.

"We know where the money is going and we keep donating.  And this is for a great team, so we're all very excited," said Young, who works in public relations.

Young said the football booster non-profit discloses exactly what it does with the money it raises from football fans.

"We tell people what we do with their money," Young said.

The Warriors travel to California for their first game against USC this Saturday.

Off-camera, other people involved with fundraising for UH athletics say it's too early to measure the true financial impact of the failed Stevie Wonder concert, that was supposed to raise funds for the UH athletics department that's in the red.

They said only in the year ahead, will they be able to see if donors like these people reduce their contributions to UH athletics.

Gareth Sakakida is another Na Koa board member who is a UH grad and former sports reporter for the UH Manoa Ka Leo newspaper.

"You can't lose heart.  They [UH athletics department] tried something.  It didn't work out.  You got to learn from that.  But we can't scorn them and turn our backs on them," said Sakakida, who now works as a lobbyist for the transportation industry.

The Na Koa Football Club just raised $60,000 Thursday night at its 16th annual "Pigskin Pigout" at Murphy's Bar and Grill in downtown Honolulu.

Organizers said that's about $10,000 more than the same event raised last year. That fundraiser happened the night after the UH regents had their day-long closed-door meeting about the Stevie Wonder affair, proving fundraising hasn't dropped off yet.

The UH faculty union said the failed concert as well as how UH administrators handled its aftermath have created a "lack of confidence" in UH leadership.

State lawmakers are considering holding investigative hearings into the fiasco, which could cost taxpayers as much as $900,000.  UH Manoa appears to have lost a $200,000 deposit for the canceled concert and it's paying former Athletics Director Jim Donovan $211,000 a year for the next three years for a newly-created communications job in the Manoa chancellor's office.  The investigation conducted by a Honolulu law firm into the failed concert is expected to cost at least $50,000.

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