Editor’s note: This letter from the University of Hawaii Manoa Letterwinners Club that was sent to University of Hawaii Athletic Director Ben Jay on May 1, 2013.
May 1, 2013
Mr. Ben Jay
University of Hawaii at Manoa
1337 Lower Campus Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
As members of the University of Hawaii at Manoa Letterwinners Club Board of Directors, we request that you hold off on changing the nicknames of the University of Hawaii athletic teams. This hasty decision has caused considerable divisions among the supporters of University of Hawaii Athletics. You claimed that you consulted with all your coaches – all of whom work for you. However, you failed to consult with your booster clubs and your key corporate supporters before making this decision.
When you met with us in January, you stated that you were in the process of evaluating the athletic department. You mentioned that you were contemplating recommended changes to nicknames for all the athletics teams. You also said that you would be moving slowly on this and would seek our input and the input of others before moving forward on any changes to the nicknames. However, a couple of weeks later, your public announcement that all men’s programs would be renamed the Warriors caught many by surprise.
At our February board meeting, it was decided to send you this letter. However, the Board wanted to give you the opportunity to meet with us to discuss your decision. After more than two months of attempting to meet with you, we are disappointed that you have refused to meet with us to discuss this issue.
The nickname issue has supporters on both sides. Some support changes, while others support the status quo. Our recommendation to you in January was to focus on bringing our athletic boosters, supporters, and fans together. Your decision to make a change to the nicknames was one of the worst ways to bring our supporters together.
Our main priority is to support our alma mater, our athletic program, and our current athletes. We want to focus on fundraising and alumni support, however, our Board continues to struggle with understanding your priorities.
UH Athletics Program has gone through very difficult times and we are hoping that your leadership will begin the healing process and bring everyone back together. The University of Hawaii Athletics Program is so vital to the well being of our local community, and the nicknames of our teams are not mere names, but representations symbolizing the importance of our athletic programs.
We look forward to supporting you in the future, but cannot support your decision to cast aside decades of athletic history and the boosters who recall these fond times.
The following members of the UH-Manoa Letterwinners Club Board of Directors:
K. Mark Takai, President
Mitch Kaaialii, Past President
Taryn Kumamoto, 1st Vice Pres.
Andy Lachman, 2nd Vice Pres.
Erika Buder-Nakasone, Sec.
Leanna Lui, Treasurer