UH's Rolovich takes over football program with challenges on and off field
MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
As the University of Hawaii's new head football coach, Nick Rolovich faces big challenges on the field -- and off.
He takes over a team that just finished the season at 3-10, and hasn’t had a winning campaign since 2010. That poor performance has translated into declining ticket sales -- and declining revenue.
UH Athletics Director David Matlin said attendance has fallen by about 10 to 12 percent in the last five years.
"That's going from 27,000 to 15,000 season tickets," he said.
He added, with a new coach, "I think this will help us stabilize that, and start building again."
The football program shoulders the revenue load for the athletics department, and with a $4.2 million deficit this year and $4.8 million projected next year, Rolovich's honeymoon won't last long.
Rolovich, though, is taking this all in stride.
"There's always going to be challenges," said Rolovich, at his first news conference Monday since UH announced his hiring Friday. "Once you accept them, then you start to get better."
Another challenge facing Rolovich: Aging facilities at UH, long a concern among UH players and prospects.
But Rolovich said the UH doesn't need fancy facilities to win.
“If a kid is going to choose to not come to this program and be part of something special because of the facilities, maybe he's not the right kind of kid for us," he said.
Matlin said that kind of pitch will go far in turning around UH's program.
"The business side is real. Part of this job is being an ambassador, being a PR person, it is super important. You're a CEO of a program," he said.
Rolovich becomes the 23rd head coach in the football program’s history.
At 36, Rolovich is the fifth youngest head coach at the FBS level.
In addition to being offensive coordinator for UH from 2010-2011, “Rolo” coordinated the offense at the University of Nevada from 2011-2015.
During his news conference, he stressed a need for team members to rally around one another and play for each other. He said he won’t rush his coaching hires, and will not serve as offensive coordinator.
Hawaii fired Norm Chow on Nov. 1 after he went 10-36 in four seasons.