Under former athletic director Dexter Irvin, the University of Hawaii at Hilo sports department experienced a lot of change, including something of an identity upgrade with a new logo and clothing line, but don’t expect interim athletic director Tim Moore to do the same.
“I want to maintain the program, give it continuity and provide leadership,” said Moore, the school’s director of the campus recreation department.
He was officially on the clock for a one-year term starting Jan. 1. Part of his job is to look under couches to find any loose change for a UH-Hilo program that is among the lowest funded in the 13-member Pacific West Conference.
Before Irvin left for an athletic director position at College of Southern Nevada, he said UH-Hilo is near and will likely be at the bottom in the league, which includes private and for-profit members, for scholarships. In a nutshell, he said expenses, including travel, keep going up while funding from the state Legislature dwindles every year.
It’s quite a contrast between the jobs of the old and new UH-Hilo athletic directors. One huge reason Irvin is heading to the land of dry dirt is his desire to build programs; CSN has only baseball and softball and is itching to add basketball.
“I’m going to look at our budget with fresh eyes, look for ways to be more efficient,” Moore said. “We have to look at new ways to generate revenue, opportunities with sponsors and donors, academic scholarships, by any and all means.”
He oversaw construction of the university’s on-campus pool, a highlight for students. As a UH-Hilo employee, but an outsider of the athletic department, he’s taking a broad view on the future of the program.
“I think one thing we’re looking for is to create an identity and make UH-Hilo as a destination point,” he said.
Moore called pharmacy a flagship program, and the 105,500-square-foot housing complex across the street from the school’s Kawili Street entrance for 300 students as another attraction for a growing enrollment.
UH-Hilo has other carrots as well, such as the nursing and astronomy programs, and the best place to study the stars with the Mauna Kea telescopes. Nonresident tuition is less than 20 grand. There’s also the Western Undergraduate Exchange rate to cut costs for nonresidents, especially mainland recruits.
Moore’s point was that UH-Hilo has more to sell than just its athletic department, which went through its own identity makeover under Irvin. During his four-year tenure, there are new coaches for men’s basketball (GE Coleman), women’s basketball (David Kaneshiro), baseball (interim Kallen Miyataki), softball (Jaime Wallin), soccer (Lance Thompson), volleyball (Tino Reyes) and tennis (Karl Sloss).
In recent years, Reyes and Wallin have coached their teams to the NCAA West Regional. Thompson’s women’s soccer squad finished 10-4-2, including 7-4-1 in the PacWest, tied for third. Golfer Dalen Yamauchi placed 76th at the Division II national championship in May.
When Irvin took over, his budget was $3.6 million. When he left, the faucet was still leaking and his cupboard held $3 million with the Vulcans responsible for raising one-third of that amount.
Former UH-Hilo athletic director Bill Trumbo, now the athletic director at Konawaena High School, started and spearheaded the annual Vulcan Athletic Fund Drive, which generated additional operational and scholarship funds and at one point held a rather healthy endowment.
Trumbo once said that “all Division II programs swim in red ink.” He was right. The red ink eventually shrank that endowment, leaving Irvin in a quandary.
“You can only sell Hawaii so much. We have unique things here,” Irvin told Stephens Media Hawaii in November. “But at the end of the day, if it costs more money out of pocket, the less chance you have of getting that young person to come to school here.
“Our school is a diamond in the rough. That’s why I came here. The best and worst thing to have is potential. My regret is we weren’t able to reach our full potential. But in terms of our coaches, I feel we’ve got a really confident, steady group.”
With a fresh pair of eyes, Moore sees the situation from all sides. He also said he hasn’t thought about applying for the full-time job.
“It’s a tough economic challenge,” he said. “But I’d like to think we’re going to be OK.”