Is Any Coach Worth That Much?

UH’s million-dollar man. AP photo

My favorite local sports writer is Dave Reardon of the Star-Advertiser. Not because he was my student at UH ages ago, but because he’s an incisive, clear-wording writer. And he’s come down hard on our million-dollars-with-little-to-show-for-it head football coach Greg McMackin.

I don’t have the background to say if McMackin is good or bad, just had some bad breaks, or couldn’t entice top prospects to play in the middle of the ocean.

But I think by now most MidWeek readers know that I’m no fan of the big business that is college athletics and paying a coach a million bucks while a great professor gets $80,000. We pay the dean of the UH medical school $469,000 and the head of the UH Cancer Center $369,000.

Why pay a coach $1 million?

Well, because you fans demand something like a winning gladiator team of the old Coliseum days. You’re not so much interested in the UH standing among national colleges and universities. You want the football team to be in the AP Top 25.

Meanwhile, sports administrators are moving chess pieces to get into position in a more fruitful conference to make more money off national TV rights. It’s the NCAA money game money for athletic departments but God help the student-athlete who tries to get a little of it for himor herself.

Did you know that scholarships for athletes use up about one-fifth of what’s available at colleges with major sports programs?

That’s defended by saying they’re drawing in kids who otherwise might not go to college.

But how about the disadvantaged but good math or English student who might not go to college?

And as an ex-UH instructor, I question how many athletes are really doing their best to prepare for a non-sports job later on. Less than 2 percent of football and basketball seniors make the pros. One of my best students was UH baseball star Howard Dashefsky, who worked his tail off in my journalism class.


He said, “I know my pro chances are not great, and I need to have something to fall back on.” He didn’t make the pros and fell back on journalism, and is having a very nice career.

I’ve always wanted more intramural sports in high school and college, which offer chances for many not-the-very-best to play a sport. All this school rah-rah stuff doesn’t impress me.

And back to the morethan-one-million paid to coach McMackin, who came to Manoa with an unimpressive resume but got the biggest salary by far in the Western Athletic Conference.

How does that happen? He gets five-and-a-half times the paycheck of the dean of the huge College of Social Sciences who oversees political science, anthropology, economics, communications, geography, psychology and ethnic studies departments five-and-a-half times more for coaching a football team.

We’ve been through this before. I got bashed before and I’ll get bashed again, I’m sure.

But something’s not right here, and if I don’t say it, who will?

Tongue-in-cheek observation of the week:

I guess we’re lucky that neither pepper spray cop John Pike nor armed security agent Christopher Deedy were duty police the night that malo-clad torch bearer ran by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Hilton Hawaiian Village.