Craig Angelos Confirmed as Next University of Hawai’i AD by Board of Regents, 8-2
BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 18, 2023
HONOLULU — Craig Angelos flew to Hawai’i Wednesday night thinking that the “home run” he had once missed as a collegiate baseball player playing as a visitor at Les Murakami Stadium might’ve finally happened.
Obviously, the first chance missed came in a real-life college baseball game during his time at BYU when the “Mānoa Mist” stonewalled a well-struck ball off his bat years ago, denying a Hawaiian home run for the then-first baseman.
Over 30 years of experience in college athletics administration later, with stops at the NCAA itself, holding second-in-command duties at many D1 institutions, and holding the head athletics director job at Florida Atlantic University for nearly ten years (2002-2012), Angelos finally had another chance at his Hawaiian “home run” with another crack at leading an athletics department with it.
It didn’t come without a long, strenuous, and much-criticized process.
Before the Board of Regents confirmed UH president David Lassner’s appointment of Angelos to the role of AD by an 8-2 vote in favor of (with one member abstaining from voting) Thursday afternoon, the members took time to express disappointment with the process and a desire for workshopping it for future roles.
Angelos was put forward to Lassner by the 8-person search committee as part of three to five finalists for the job. The finalists were determined after interviews with 8-10 candidates who were picked out of over 60 applicants and cut down by best fit, experience and skill.
Once the finalists were presented to Lassner, the president conducted his own interviews before concluding that Angelos would be the pick amongst the best the committee offered.
That same search committee came under fire during the process due to diversity concerns, leading to the addition of former UH wide receiver and Radford alum Ashley Lelie to the panel that included people like UH men’s volleyball coach Charlie Wade and Rainbow Wahine head basketball coach Laura Beeman.
After over two hours of executive session deliberation, the Board of Regents emerged to vote on Angelos’ appointment (among other things).
The new athletic director’s official appointment to the job came with strong favor, receiving eight “yay” votes out of eleven total despite the concerns expressed earlier.
Angelos addressed the media for the first time following the meeting’s conclusion and took questions from reporters as he donned a brand-new Hawai’i baseball cap and a big-time smile.
Standing in front of the media, Angelos thanked the Board of Regents, Lassner and the search committee among many more people during his opening remarks. The fresh face of the athletics department took time to detail the people at UH who had helped him during the transition to the islands and continue to assist as he starts to immerse himself in the culture.
“I know that there was some discussion about my lack of local ties to the community,” Angelos acknowledged. “I do totally understand that and recognize that and want to give you my solid promise that I will certainly try to immerse myself in this community.”
“I want to look, I want to listen, I want to learn from everybody that’s here. I want to be part of it and make this our home,” he continued.
The open-mindedness of Angelos is good, fitting into the positivity in Hawai’i. Unfortunately, the job is far more than learning Hawai’i culture for the man taking over after David Matlin’s 8-year tenure.
Angelos begins duties June 5 with plenty of work cut out for him, as issues hanging over the new Aloha Stadium plan continue to persist for the university and programs must continue to navigate the new NIL landscape in the NCAA along with the increased use of the transfer portal.
Conference realignment is another concern of many as schools continue to move with commitments to new leagues and rumors of larger conferences at risk of falling through. With these issues and more, it was Angelos tabbed to lead the Rainbow Warriors into the next era of college sports.
The new athletic director outlined the previously stated issues in his opening remarks, discussing how he would like to continue to expand on the previous regime’s start on solving the newest problems facing the NCAA while continuing the excellent experience student-athletes receive at Hawai’i.
“I want to really work a lot on what [David Matlin has] already started with the capital project, certainly the Aloha Stadium project,” Angelos said. “That’s an area I have a little bit of a specialty in from my days at Florida Atlantic University when I was able to work on a public-private partnership there and get to build a 30,000-seat football stadium. I know this is a different kind of project, but I certainly want to be involved in that.”
With the recent delays in the plan to build a new Aloha Stadium, Angelos’ experience will be greatly welcomed as fans wonder how they can believe in the stadium being built.
A new era officially begins for the University of Hawai’i, a brand and university that Angelos called “iconic” during his remarks. He believes that with a unified approach, there is no telling how bright the Rainbow Warriors can shine.
“It’s going to take a lot of people working together,” Angelos finished his opening remarks with. “We’ve got to be unified in our approach, anywhere from the governor’s office to the mayor’s office, to the legislative personnel, to donors, to university personnel… if we’re aligned all in one, no divisions amongst us, we can accomplish a lot of things.”
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