I had always assumed that the University of Hawaii sports budget was hemorrhaging money. The sheer burden of having to fly over 2,000 miles just to make landfall in California seems like a handicap that would be near impossible to overcome. Then consider that, at times, the Warriors had to trek inland as far as Tulsa in past WAC seasons and the whole thing sounds exhausting and dreadfully expensive.
Nonetheless, according to the Pacific Business Journal, Hawaii’s basketball program spent just $2 million last season, ending with a very respectable 19-13 record.
That doesn’t mean the program’s in the black — revenues were just $1.5 million — but realignment may very well boost that return on investment to at least the break-even mark. As the newest members of the Big West, the Warriors won’t have to schedule any in-conference road trips outside of Cali. Boise State will wreck that geographical footprint a bit, but it seems obvious that the travel budget can be slimmed down a bit even then.
A look at some of the presumptive savings, from a 2010 article in the Long Beach Daily 49er:
Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan said the school could save “as much as a quarter-million dollars” with the move.
“What we had to look at was the opportunity cost of staying in the WAC as it geographically moved further and further to the Central Time Zone,” Donovan said. “That would have meant additional costs for us, more time away for our student-athletes, which would impact them academically. So, certainly, we’ll have cost savings playing the Big West as compared to the WAC.
“We couldn’t afford not to do it.”
It’s not like the level of competition will suffer much, either. With our No. 11 San Diego Aztecs making the Big West move next season as well. Between the WCC and the Big West, the Pac-12 is going to have some serious competition for the marquee late-night TV slots a year from now.