EXCLUSIVE: UH spends $260K replacing sand that was hurting volleyball players

EXCLUSIVE: UH spends $260K replacing sand that was hurting volleyball players
Replacement sand
Replacement sand
Original sand
Original sand

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii-Manoa is spending $260,000 replacing the sand in its new sand volleyball practice courts because the sand was causing injuries to its volleyball players, pushing the cost of the project up by more than 50 percent.

The Rainbow Wahine sand volleyball team finished second in the pairs division and third overall at last weekend's national championships in Alabama.

Back home, new practice courts that opened in February caused some players to get hurt earlier this year.

"It was more like scrapes on the elbows and on the legs, on the knees and things.  And they were visible," said UH Athletics Director Ben Jay.

Jay said the sand in the new courts had small pieces of crushed coral in it, essentially small pebbles of coral that caused abrasions when the players landed in the sand.

"I put a stop to the project.  We consulted with the contractor, consulted with the architects and went back to the drawing board in terms of finding another source of sand," Jay said.

Jay said UH sampled about a dozen types of replacement sand and settled on sand from a quarry in Kahuku.  It has already been installed in two of the three new practice courts.

The old sand sits piled in a third court and will be replaced in the coming weeks, Jay said.

Removing the old and installing the new sand is costing UH $260,000, Jay said. That's about a 55 percent increase of the $473,000 original cost of building the three new courts, bringing the total overall cost to $733,000.

"We recognized it and we dealt with it and we found a solution for it.  And that's all that really matters.  Health and safety welfare of our student athletes is utmost," Jay said.

The new volleyball practice courts make up some of $13 million worth of sports construction projects that Jay inherited when he came aboard, and he said the original type of sand for the courts was approved before he took the job.

He said UH had to pay the extra quarter-million dollars because it could not prove that the sand it called for in the specifications was not delivered.

"You have to make sure that whatever they deliver to you is the 'spec' (specification) of sand that you have picked. And nobody really knew that because all the selection of sand was done before we got here, before I got here," Jay said.

"Was the sand that was delivered the actual sample that was approved?  We'll never really know. I think those are things you have to check as you go along the way," Jay added.

He said UH saved some money by trading in the sand it didn't want and received some credit in trade for the new sand.

The project ran into another major problem.  It had to shrink from four to three courts because a drainage pipe from the swimming pool next door was discovered that hadn't appeared on any plans, Jay said.

UH is also constructing two competition sand volleyball courts, with seating for 500 spectators, as part of the Ching athletics complex.  The sand for the competition courts does not have any problems, Jay said.

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