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Monday, December 8, 2003
Jones threatens to pull team from Christmas game

Associated Press

HONOLULU -- Hawaii coach June Jones will pull his team from the Hawaii Bowl if the school can't academically certify the players before the Christmas Day game.

None of the Warriors were certified before last year's Hawaii Bowl, but Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier said that won't happen again before Hawaii (8-5) faces Houston (7-5).

"This year, the institution has put many things in place in order for us to be eligible and have our athletes certified," he said. "Our people have been working on it all along. There will be checks of our athletes' grades as early as Dec. 15."

Frazier said grades will be monitored until they are officially posted Dec. 23, two days before the bowl game.

"Everybody has done everything they can to get it done and I anticipate they will, but I was told one thing: If the computer freezes up or locks up and we can't get them, then we've got a problem," Jones said. "If that happens we're not going to play."

The Western Athletic Conference instituted a new academic rule last year that requires student athletes to pass a minimum of six credit hours in the fall semester prior to the date of a postseason competition.

Hawaii did not certify any of its players before last season's bowl game against Tulane, saying there was not enough time between the posting of the grades and the Christmas Day game.

After grades were submitted Dec. 28, 2002, starting quarterback Timmy Chang was found ineligible and Hawaii officials immediately reported the infraction to the WAC office.

The WAC publicly reprimanded Hawaii and suspended Chang for this year's season opener and fined the school $5,000.

"The precedent has already been set," Jones said. "The computer wasn't ready last year. We had one player and they wouldn't let him play the first game so I'm not going to take a chance and forfeit everybody next year.

"If there's a glitch, then we won't play the game, it's as simple as that. That's what I've decided. I'm not going to play because everybody's ineligible."

The coach said he was going to inform university officials of his plans late Monday.

"I think what you have is a coach that's frustrated by the events last year," Frazier said. "Obviously when you qualify for the postseason, you want to go into that game with all your players and everybody certified and being able to compete."

Travis LaBoy, who was named the WAC defensive player of the year on Monday, said Jones notified the team of the possibility of skipping the Hawaii Bowl.

"He told the team to be aware," LaBoy said. "All the players know you need to have certain credits in order to play so right now everyone's just concentrating on that."