Colleges and universities campaign for people's money all the time, but never like this. The University of Hawaii has launched a page on crowd-funding website IndieGogo.com in hopes of raising $10,000 to relieve the Warriors' outsized travel costs.
The school says it costs $5.6 million to send its 21 teams on the road for an average of seven times per year per team. That's a total of 147 road trips per year, at an average cost of $38,095 per trip. That $10,000 figure will pay for nearly a quarter of one road trip.
Hawaii has the highest travel costs in college athletics (surprise!) at $5.6 million a year, which accounts for 18 percent of the total athletics budget. The Warriors spent $3.4 million a year ago to send their own teams on the road, but then also ponied up for a $2.2 million subsidy to send visiting teams to Hawaii, pay their lodging and buy them dinner. It's a tough double whammy. On top of all that, Hawaii spends an average of $7,000 to bring a prospect in on an official visit so they can field those teams that cost so much to put on the field of play.
Hawaii has offered different donation levels, ranging from $50 with a personalized shout out to $2,500 and a one-year membership in the Athletic Director's Circle. So far, Hawaii hasn't had any takers at the $2,500 or $1,500 level.
Opened on Thursday, the page has raised $1,205 of its $10,000 goal. The campaign lasts through June 7. If fulfilled, Hawaii will have raised 0.17 percent of its total travel budget.
Credit athletics director Ben Jay for trying. Hired in January 2013, he stepped into an athletics department at the bottom of Division I by any conceivable measure. Here's an excerpt from Honolulu Magazine on the state of affairs upon his relocation from Ohio State:
Jay counted 72 burned-out bulbs—he is a numbers guy—along the walkways outside the athletics department when he arrived. Three months later, as he caught a red-eye flight to California for a football meeting, the bulbs were still out. This wasn’t the only facilities issue Jay faced. There were the broken toilets in the Stan Sheriff Center, the bent rims in the basketball team’s gym, the decrepit locker room that was too embarrassing for football coaches to show recruits, the weeds—the list went on and on
Clearly, the athletics department needs help. Problem is, they're not alone. State lawmakers cut the entire university's budget by $7 million last July. Tuition has risen five years in a row.
All this leads to an uncomfortable question. If you can't afford to take your teams on the road or bring opponents to you, should you field those teams at all?