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Frazier fired as University of Hawaii athletics director

HONOLULU -- The University of Hawaii fired athletics
director Herman Frazier on Tuesday after he failed to re-sign
football coach June Jones.

In a brief statement, the university said the move was made "in
the best interest of the athletics program." It came a day after
Jones, the winningest coach in school history, accepted a five-year
deal worth about $2 million a year to coach at SMU.

Frazier, who was unavailable for comment, had been under fire
for a series of widely publicized missteps.

Besides failing to sign Jones, Frazier was criticized for not
accepting the full allotment of Sugar Bowl tickets, creating a
ticket shortage. He also took heat last year over substandard
athletic facilities, filling the 2007 football schedule with two
Football Championship Subdivision teams and the poor handling of
men's basketball coach Riley Wallace's departure after 20 years.

Under provisions in his contract, Frazier will be paid $312,510,
which includes a year's salary, plus 90 days of pay. The contract
was set to expire July 31, 2010.

The details of the termination agreement with Frazier must be
finalized and require the approval of the Board of Regents.

Associate athletics director Carl Clapp will serve as acting
director until Frazier's replacement is hired. Clapp will handle
the day-to-day operations, as well as work with administrators to
secure a new head football coach.

Frazier came to Hawaii in 2002 after serving as AD at
Alabama-Birmingham. He also spent 23 years at Arizona State, where
he led the track team to a national championship in 1977. Frazier
is also an Olympic champion and former committee member.

Also on Tuesday, the university posted the football coaching
vacancy, officially launching its search for Jones' replacement.

A couple days before accepting the coaching job at SMU, Jones
sent Frazier a 1,500-word e-mail expressing his frustrations over
how his negotiations were handled at the last minute.

"The way my contract talks have been handled ... is kind of the
reason I am tired and why I just need to go," Jones wrote.

On Monday, Hawaii president David McClain acknowledged the
school could have been more aggressive and timely.

"I also want to apologize to our fans and all of Hawaii for
matters getting to this stage in the first place," he said.
"Exceptional performance deserves exceptional recognition and your
university was slow to step up. That won't happen again."

Jones' agent, Leigh Steinberg, said he contacted Frazier on Dec.
27, soliciting an offer and notifying the athletics director of a
time-sensitive offer from another institution.

Steinberg contacted Frazier again Thursday when he didn't get a
response. Hawaii responded later that day with its initial offer of
$1.1 million annually. Hawaii eventually offered a package of about
$1.6 million annually and promised improvements to the facilities
and more resources.

By then, it was too late.

Jones wrote that he probably would have signed an extension if
an offer was made in 2006, before this past season or as late as
the Dec. 1 regular-season finale.

In his e-mail, Jones also left behind a list of five possible
successors with local ties: New York Giants offensive coordinator
Kevin Gilbride, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow,
San Jose State coach Dick Tomey, Texas assistant coach Duane Akina
and Hawaii linebackers coach Cal Lee.

"I have talked to them and they are interested," Jones wrote.
"I know you know a lot of people too that would be good but this
place is different and unless you get someone that knows Hawaii you
will take a big step backwards."

Steinberg said the list of possible successors proves how much
Jones cares about the Warriors, who went undefeated during the
regular season before losing to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

"He's still heavily committed to the success of the Hawaii
football program and extremely concerned that the program he built
and the players he recruited are successful," Steinberg said
Tuesday. "Those are the players, a week ago, he was coaching in a
bowl game."

Former Michigan State coach John L. Smith, who runs a wide-open
offense similar to Jones', is among those being considered for the
Hawaii job.

"With 18 years of collegiate head coaching experience and over
130 wins, I would hope that would qualify me as a candidate to be
the next head coach at the University of Hawaii," Smith told The
Associated Press in a telephone interview from his home in
Louisville, Ky.

Smith, who was fired following the 2006 season after compiling a
22-26 record with the Spartans, said he couldn't wait to get back
to college football.

"I think I could bring high energy and an unsurpassed work
ethic to help keep Hawaii at the top of the WAC," he said. "I've
had experience recruiting Hawaii, and also Samoa along with of
course, the West Coast and the rest of the country."