Scholarship Athletes Left Hungry, Homeless for 9 Days by Univ. Of Hawaii and NCAA

Source:  OSKAR GARCIA/ Associated Press via Huffington Post

HONOLULU (AP) — About 60 Hawaii scholarship athletes were delayed nine days in receiving their summer funds, prompting some to sleep in a locker room while waiting for checks totaling about $92,000, university athletics officials said.

Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay told The Associated Press on Thursday that clerical problems delayed processing of the scholarship funds from both the athletics department and the university’s financial aid department. He said the stipends have to be carefully processed to avoid paying wrong amounts — something that’s not as easy as pulling out a checkbook.

“When it comes right down to it, we need to plan better,” Jay said.

The delayed funds — covering about six weeks of expenses for students going to summer school and living off campus — were paid by June 6, Jay said. The problem affected less than one-fifth of the 332 athletes in 21 programs who are on full or partial scholarships.

“This should never happen again,” he said. “We have a responsibility for these kids to make sure they’re taken care of. That’s what their parents expect of us.”

Seven athletes slept in a locker room last week, eating energy bars and watching shows on a big screen TV, Jay said, while he contacted the chancellor and others and got the problems fixed. The delay came as students were transitioning from dorms during the spring semester to off-campus housing, meaning they needed the checks to pay deposits and rent.

Jay said NCAA rules restricted the school’s options to solve the problem, meaning he couldn’t buy the athletes groceries or take them out for meals.

“You could be looking at a potential NCAA violation by doing that,” he said. “You have to look within the limits.”

Jay said the issue was simply clerical and unrelated to larger financial challenges being faced by the department, which is expected to post a $2 million operating loss this fiscal year.