The University of Hawaii expects to offer some form of cost of attendance stipends to scholarship athletes this year, UH-Manoa athletic director David Matlin told a Board of Regents committee.
"I think it is something that we need to do to compete and to show we're (serious)," Matlin told the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics Thursday. "I believe it is in our best interests to start now, even if we have to start small."
Beginning Aug. 1 NCAA members may, for the first time, pay athletes the COA stipends intended to cover costs such as transportation, school supplies, cellphone, laundry and miscellaneous expenses. Full scholarships currently cover tuition, room, board, books and mandatory fees.
At UH, Matlin said, the average fully-funded stipend would be $4,085. If all 248 scholarship athletes received full stipends, the bill would be $1.1 million-$1.2 million, depending upon transportation costs, Matlin said.
"I don't see us fully funded to begin with, but I think starting now is some fashion is important," Matlin said.
He said UH is looking at 12 different models with varying amounts within gender equity guidelines, some in which not all of UH's 21 teams would be initial recipients.
"First we have to see what we can allocate budget wise and, then, how we divide it up to bring the best value," Matlin said.
The COA issue comes as athletics said it expects to finish the fiscal year June 30 with a deficit of $3.8 million-$4 million. A rough early draft for the fiscal year that starts July 1 projects a $4.7 million-$4.8 million deficit if COA is fully funded.
But Matlin told regents he is talking to some potential donors who he hopes might contribute significant sums to help underwrite COA and is also exploring some licensing and marketing possibilities.
In the Mountain West, where UH competes in football, so far only one of the 11 schools (Air Force does not offer scholarships), Nevada, has said it will not offer COAs for the 2015-'16 school year. At least nine have so far said they plan to offer COA.
In the Big West, where most other UH teams compete, there is a conference-wide agreement to offer some form of stipends for at least men's and women's basketball.