With more than one full year under his belt as the Rainbow Warriors head coach, Nick Rolovich headed into this year's Mountain West coaches meeting with a different perspective on certain disadvantages his team faces.
While the 'Bows head coach says his squad values their place in the Mountain West they would like to get a little more respect for what they contribute to the conference.
"I haven't gotten one thank you card for the travel subsidies," Rolovich recently told Hawaii News Now. "I don't know, I don't think it's fair."
When the Rainbow Warriors agreed to join the Mountain West Conference in 2012, the agreement included one expensive stipulation: Hawaii would have to take on the heavy financial burden of paying for conference opponents' travel expenses when they played in Hawaii.
For the 2015 season alone, that stipulation resulted in Hawaii paying $625,000 for four conference home games. It's an expense that no other school in the Mountain West faces, and one Hawaii didn't previously have to pay as members of the Western Athletic Conference.
That money, according to athletics department administrator Tiffany Kuraoka, could easily be reallocated to other expenses within the athletics department, which is currently in debt.
All the while, Rolovich says the team is bringing revenue to the conference in other ways.
"That's the deal that was made. Doesn't mean it's fair, doesn't mean I agree with it, but that was the deal that was made," Rolovich said. "But, I think there's some value that UH brings that we're not getting credit for. The ability to have week zero games ... that means you can play a week earlier, and you have TV options, and that's only in place because of us."
'Week Zero' games, like Hawaii's tilt against Cal in Australia last year – as well as the broadcast options that usually accompany them – mean more exposure and more revenue for the teams and conferences involved.
When it comes to changing the way Hawaii is treated, Rolovich – who says the conference needs to treat the 'Bows with more respect – says the plan is both incredibly simple and incredibly difficult.
"I think at some point we're going to have to stand up for ourselves and say, 'Listen, this isn't the way it's going to work anymore,'" said Rolovich.
"The situation we're in, if we continue to build, I think we need to earn a little more respect in the Mountain West Conference," he added.