HONOLULU – Rep. K. Mark Takai (Aiea) is proposing a legislative bill that will provide the intercollegiate athletic program at UH Manoa with a one-time $10 million boost.
This legislative proposal dovetails UH athletic director Ben Jay’s strategic plan announced in September.
“UH athletics is not only the front porch of our University, but also the marquee brand for Hawaii,” Takai said. “To be a relevant and competitive program, the operating budget needs to grow to $40 million (from $32 million).”
Takai said that he’s spoken to many people throughout Hawaii who support UH athletics and agree with Jay’s goal of “positioning UH athletics as a NCAA top 50 program.”
“It’s much easier to get community support and people in the stands when we have winning teams,” Takai acknowledged. “However, it’s because of the past few challenging years that we need to step up now and support our athletic program.”
“In recent years, the ability to maintain and grow our Division I programs has become challenging. We are at a crossroads of being one of the ‘haves’ versus the ‘have nots,’” Jay said.
Takai’s legislative proposal also includes a 50 percent match requirement – for each new dollar raised by the UH athletic program, the state will provide two dollars.
“This proposal is designed to encourage more community support, more people donating to the UH athletic program,” Takai explained.
Takai is confident that this one-time infusion of state funds will be an incentive to additional community support and will launch Hawaii’s program forward.
Takai said that he has spoken to both Chancellor Tom Apple and Jay over the past few months about how best to utilize this type of one-time funding to leverage the community for long-lasting support.
“We need to be financially secure with an image, rank and reputation that will make UH athletics nationally recognized,” Jay said, “matching the academic excellence that the university has already achieved.”
Takai received an athletic scholarship from UH Manoa. He is the past president of the UH Letterwinners Club and current board member of Ahahui Koa Anuenue.