University of Hawaii Releases Norm Chow’s Head Football Coaching Contract; Won’t Disclose His Salary

Norm Chow (University of Hawaii photo)
Norm Chow (University of Hawaii photo)

BY JIM DOOLEY – Citing privacy interests, the University of Hawaii won’t disclose the salary of new head football coach Norm Chow, other than to say that it’s somewhere between $392,142 and $935,544 per year.

The university reversed fields in refusing to specify Chow’s salary, which is believed to be between $500,000 and $600,000 annually. The institution had previously disclosed the $1.1 million compensation of former head coach Greg McMackin and in 2003 was forced to release a copy of then-head coach June Jones’ $800,000-per year contract.

The disclosure of Jones’ contract came after the state Office of Information Practices issued an opinion which overrode the University’s contention that release of the document would violate the coach’s privacy rights.

“Because of the public nature of his position and the fact that he is one of the, if not the, highest paid State employees, Coach Jones’ privacy interests relating to the contract are outweighed by the public’s right to know,” the opinion said.

“Based upon the information provided to us by UH, we cannot conclude that disclosure of the contract will frustrate a legitimate government function, i.e., UH’s ability to maintain morale in the athletic department or to negotiate contracts with its coaches,” the OIP opinion said.

Oddly, the University today cited that 2003 OIP ruling as partial justification for its decision to withhold the precise amount of Chow’s salary.

Chow’s contract includes a number of performance incentives which would bring him more than $500,000 if he reached annnual milestones such as winning a prestigious BCS bowl game and the national coach of the year award.

It’s not clear when the five-year contract was signed but it was effective January 1.

The agreement allows the University to terminate Chow without cause if the coach is paid lump sum damages of the amount remaining on his contract through year four plus $200,000 for year five.

The deal allows Chow to receive outside income and benefits from such activities as television and radio broadcasts, sports camps and endorsement deals with athletic equipment suppliers. The University must approve such arrangements.

Chow also gets free use of a car and such perquisites as 30 season tickets and eight parking passes to UH home games.

Chow must pay for his own on-campus parking.

Terms of the deal can be renegotiated annually after completion of the second year of the contract.

Chow, 65, grew up in Hawaii but has spent his coaching career on the Mainland, serving as an assistant coach at a number of universities and with the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League.

When he was introduced to news media last month, Chow refused to talk about money or coaches’ salaries.

“Money has nothing to do with this, with the chance to come home. How much can you pay for that?” he said.

Chow’s son Carter serves as his agent and signed the deal with his father.


See the document released by the University of Hawaii Notice to Requester – re: Norm Chow Contract



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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at


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