MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Out $50,000 for the nonpayment of a game last season, the University of Hawaii men's basketball team was forced to scramble to fill its schedule after a game with Washington State next month was canceled.
The Washington State game in Seattle was organized by an Arizona sports marketing firm, Idol Sports & Entertainment, whose owner John Hines reportedly died in a suicide in August. Idol Sports also organized the UH-Missouri game last season in Kansas City, for which UH is still owed $50,000.
Critics say the scheduling mess could have been avoided had UH done its proper due diligence.
"Wonder blunder, hoop poop, what does it take to get the lesson that our folks are not trained at doing business," said state Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai.
"They do business with people who have sketchy records at best. They get stiffed for the money and they go ahead and add another contract. Nobody in the private sector does this."
By "Wonder Blunder," Slom was referring the to Stevie Wonder concert two years ago where UH athletic officials paid $200,000 to a Florida promoter for a bogus fundraising concert.
Hawaii News Now has learned that Hines owed a number of people money, including two of his friends who sued to recover a $100,000 investment in Hines' sports marketing company. The company also settled a breach of contract lawsuit back in 2004.
"There's no oversight. There is no due diligence," said Slom.
But UH officials were quick to note that Missouri and Washington State -- and not Idol Sports -- had initially invited UH to play the games so the issue of nonpayment wasn't a big question when the game was scheduled. It was only after Hines died that it became a problem, they said.
UH Athletic Director Ben Jay added that the issue of collecting late payments occasionally comes up when dealing with third parties but that UH would try to collect the money owed for the Missouri game.
The loss of the Washington State game prompted the men's team to accept a last-minute invite to a game in Florida. That game will cost the UH another $25,000, plus travel costs.