- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Ben Jay accumulated an average of more than $13,200 per month in bonuses during his tenure as the University of Hawaii’s athletic director and was due a lump sum $370,000 bonus payment upon his departure under terms of his 2012 contract, records show.

The bonuses are in addition to his annual base salary of $293,000, meaning Jay was paid more than $1 million for his 28-month tenure.

The figures sharply contrast with what is now potentially available to Jay’s successor, David Matlin, who has a $25,000 ceiling on bonuses this year, underlining a significant philosophical shift said to be taking place in contracts at UH.

Both contracts were made available to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Monday in response to requests under the state’s open-records law.

Those documents show Jay’s contract laid out the possibility of more than $300,000 per year in bonuses had all benchmarks — including championships, postseason appearances, academic performance and a balanced budget — been achieved.

Jay could have topped $500,000 in bonuses for his tenure, but the school said he “declined” all but $15,000 of $155,000 from fiscal year 2013, “since he was employed only the second half of FY 2013,” UH said.

“Ben Jay’s contract is an example of the past, not the present,” UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said Monday. “This isn’t just about athletics; this is about part of a new overall philosophy here at UH.”

Jay, whose hiring was announced by then-Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple in December 2012, began his employment at UH on Jan. 14, 2013, and left the payroll May 29, 2015, according to UH records. Jay’s resignation was announced Dec. 9, but he remained on through the hiring of Matlin and the close of the academic year.

He was due the $370,000 within six months of his departure, according to the contract.

UH said it expects a $4.2-$4.4 million athletic department deficit for the fiscal year that concluded June 30.

The bulk of Jay’s bonuses, $355,000, were tied to academic performance, with just $15,000 related to on-the-field achievements by UH teams.

For example, Jay earned $10,000 in each fiscal year (2013-14 and 2014-15) for each team that had an Academic Performance Rating greater than 960 and $5,000 each fiscal year for each team with an APR greater than 940.

The APR is an NCAA measure of academic performance, retention and graduation established in 2003. UH’s all-team average over the most recent four-year period (2010-11 through 2013-14) was 972 (out of a possible 1,000), matching its best ever. The national Division I average for the same period was 978.

Jay earned $5,000 each from NCAA volleyball tournament appearances by the Rainbow Wahine in 2013 and ‘14 and the Rainbow Warriors in 2015.

Jay’s contract contained 16 bonus provisions, believed to be the most of any UH AD in the modern era.

In recent months UH has sought to tighten up athletic department contracts. Matlin, in contrast to Jay’s deal, may be eligible for what is now termed “incentive-based compensation” in eight areas (APR, overall grade point average among all athletes, NCAA tournament appearances, bowl game appearances, Directors Cup standings, conference championships, revenue growth and fundraising performance).

Matlin’s contract, which was signed by Apple’s successor as chancellor, Robert Bley-Vroman, says, “Each year of employment that meets all performance goals and metrics as may be established by the Chancellor (in consultation with you), may result in additional incentives, which the Chancellor, as the position’s supervisor, will make the final determination and not to exceed the maximum.”

Matlin’s “incentive-based compensation” is capped at $25,000 this year. The cap will rise to $40,000 in his second year and $60,000 for the fourth and fifth years of the contract.

Matlin’s base salary is listed at $290,016.

“I think if someone looks at how this contract was structured and how David Matlin’s contract is structured, they can see the changes there — and there are more changes to come,” Meisenzahl said. He said they would be reflected not just in athletic contracts, “but capital improvements, procurement … whatever it might be.”

Construction of UH contracts in general, and athletic department agreements in particular, has been a source of controversy in recent years amid six-figure buyouts. The school is currently embroiled in a grievance procedure with former men’s basketball coach Gib Arnold, who claims he is owed $1.4 million for his dismissal without cause last year.

Meisenzahl said, “We have brand-new leadership in the Office of General Counsel under Carrie Okinaga, and she is in the process of standardizing contracts so that there is more clarity. We are also putting in more vigorous controls.”

Meisenzahl added, “It is about formalizing procedures to make sure best practices are done consistently from here on out.”

At a UH Board of Regents meeting this month, prior to the airing of Jay’s bonuses, regent Simeon Acoba Jr. asked for an extensive review of UH contract policies.

Acoba said he would like to have an explanation of how contracts are generated.

“I would hope they go through some uniform process and not something on an ad hoc basis. It is difficult to believe that every single contract has to be renegotiated. I’m hoping that we’re not starting from scratch and that we have good, binding legal contracts.”

Acoba has also asked for an explanation of what goes into contracts and how they compare with those at peer institutions.

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