CUH speaks, being out of Maui Invitational every other year


Chaminade Athletics

Chaminade has been hosting the Maui Invitational since it began in 1984.

By Ka'ui Perreira, Staff Writer

Chaminade University, the long-time host of the Maui Invitational, will only be participating every other season, starting with the 2017 tournament. This news, announced in late October, has angered many Chaminade students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the Chaminade basketball team itself. Even though Chaminade will still have a part in the Maui Invitational by playing in the opening round on the mainland, the Swords will not be competing in the nationally televised part of the tournament that has become synonymous with Thanksgiving week for many at Chaminade.

“I definitely wanted to be involved in the Maui Invitational when I was in high school,” said Kaleb Gilmore, a freshman guard from Kailua on the CUH basketball team. “That was one of the big reasons why Chaminade is on the map.”

In 2018, Chaminade will not play in the Maui Invitational in Lahaina but will travel to a mainland opponent’s arena and play in what the tournament calls an “opening round.” The Swords will do this every other year. In odd years, they will compete in the eight-team Maui Invitational.

The news release by Chaminade University explained this new development as positive for CUH and its student-athletes. However, most students who attend the Maui Invitational disagreed with this new decision because Chaminade will get less exposure after being the host for all these years.

“Chaminade has been a great contender in the Maui Invitational against Division I teams across the country with the best player in the country, more so in the past few years,” said De’Andre Haskins, a former CUH basketball guard and PacWest Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year consecutively in 2013 and 2014. “I feel like this would be taking such a promising event of exposure away from our student-athletes.”

The Maui Invitational has been a part of Chaminade history since its official establishment in 1984. In 1982, two years prior to the Maui Invitational, Chaminade University played the University of Virginia, the top-ranked Division I school in the country at the time that boasted national Player of the Year Ralph Sampson, a 7-foot-4 behemoth. The Swords pulled off what many have called the biggest upset in college basketball history, winning 77-74. This led Chaminade to hosting the first Maui Invitational tournament in 1984.

“I think Chaminade has been a great contender in The Maui Invitational against Division 1 teams across the country with the best player in the country more so in the past few years,” said Haskins. “And I feel like this would be taking such a promising event of exposure away from our student-athletes.”

More than just a missed opportunity for the upcoming CUH men’s baskteball team, the student activities on campus will be greatly affected. Every season since 1984, Chaminade has been attending the Maui Invitational, and current Chaminade University students have been given the privilege to attend the games, have housing and food provided, and bond with other Chaminade students. This opportunity will more than likely no longer be allowed and offered for the low price it has been offered at. Jerri Francisco, a senior at CUH and vice president of finance for the Chaminade Student Programming Board, is excited to attend this season’s Maui Invitational along with her classmates and friends.

“Maui Invitational is a great opportunity for Chaminade students to showcase their school spirit,” said Francisco. “We come together as a community to support our basketball team as they begin their season. It will be a great experience for those who haven’t gone, especially if it’s their first time going to Maui.”

Student athletes from around the world and country have chosen Chaminade as their school because of the great opportunities like the Maui Invitational. Chaminade students who love to watch their fellow classmates play are concerned that with this change school spirit and support for athletics will drop.

“The Maui Jim Maui Invitational holds a special place in the hearts of Silverswords everywhere,” said Brother Bernie Ploeger in the news release.  “With that tradition in mind, we are excited about the new opportunities these changes present for our University.”

But more than a special place in the CUH community’s heart, the Maui Invitational is a great way for Chaminade to recruit prospective players. The national television exposure for CUH’s basketball team was one of the main attractions for those contemplating playing for a NCAA Division II school.

“You’re not just only missing out on the televised portion, even though that is a huge part,” said senior guard for CUH basketball team Kiran Shastri. “It’s amazing being able to play in the tournament I used to watch growing up on TV every Thanksgiving week, but there’s so much more that the tournament has to offer than just playing on TV. Walking into the [Lahaina] Civic Center knowing that players such as [former NBA greats] Dell Curry, Penny Hardaway [and Kemba Walker all have played on the same court that you are about to play on gives you some sort of validation that all the hard work you’ve put in over the years have paid off. The teams [Chaminade] will play when they are traveling [to the mainland for the tournament’s opening rounds] aren’t at the level of the teams that are in the invitational. It’s just sad they are doing this to Chaminade.”

Haskins was part of the last time Chaminade won at the Maui Invitational, scoring 32 points in an 86-73 upset over national power Texas in 2012. CUH has won seven games in the Maui Invitational, but as a small, private institution that competes in Division II athletics, getting to play three games against national powerhouses on ESPN is an honor. This loss of exposure for the CUH basketball team more than likely will place Chaminade even more so out of the minds and views of recruiters and prospective students.

“I absolutely feel that this will hurt recruiting,” said Shastri. “The Maui Invitational being the premier preseason tournaments brings in high level recruits from all around the world to Chaminade. I’ve had the pleasure to have teammates from Taiwan, Australia, Portugal and Switzerland. Chaminade loses its No. 1 recruiting edge by now only getting to play in the tournament every other year.”

Though many are upset that Chaminade will no longer participate in the Maui Invitational, the CUH basketball team will have the opportunity to play against top-ranked schools that fall under the Division I category in the mainland.

“I know we are going to have the opportunity incredible and unique experience of going and playing against some of the top teams in their home arena, in front of some of the biggest crowds we’ve ever played,” said head coach Eric Bouvaird. “So that’s going to be an awesome experience for the guys. But you know, who wouldn’t be disappointed if you’re not playing in what I consider the greatest tournament, except for every other year. We’re going to make the most of the situation. As far as I know it’s a great benefit for the school. I support it if administration feels that’s the best decision.”

While this news upset many at Chaminade, others have been able to be open to these new changes that playing against Division I opponents on the mainland every other year will provide. 

“I know there is a lot of mixed feelings about that because the school that started it will not be participating every other year,” said Kevin Hashiro, sports information director. “I think as with everything in life, things evolve, things change and you have to change with the times. And I think this new venture is an exciting part of Chaminade basketball because now the future student-athletes get to play in places that they’ll never otherwise [and] will have the opportunity to go to a place to play at Arizona or perhaps at a UCLA. Because at Chaminade we don’t travel to those big venues, that is a huge opportunity for Chaminade basketball players that will come along in the future.”

What else they’re saying:

Kevin Hashiro on getting to play top-ranked opponents on the mainland: “We like to going to Maui because we know we are going to play three outstanding opponents and we’ll get television exposure, but I think when you look on the plus side and when you look at the bigger picture, U think it works out well for the university down the line in that you get to go and play at [Stanford’s] Maples Pavilion or perhaps an Allen Fieldhouse [at Kansas].”

“That’s one of the things that our athletic department wants to enhance in athletics is student-athlete experience.”

De’Andre Haskins on the importance of the Maui Invitational to him and his family: “The Maui Invitational meant that my 18 nieces and nephews could see that our family has something special bring to this world. I’m grateful that I could show them anything is possible if we work hard and have faith.”

“The Maui Invitational is the main reason why I de-committed from Cal State University of Fullerton to pursue excellence on a Nationwide Stage with Steven Bennett a fellow Citrus College Owl. So we used the Maui Invitational to show that we are as strong as the highly ranked players, just as confidence, have the abilities and can produce if not dominate on the highest stage as a underrated basketball player. It took a lot of heart and courage to make that move.”

“The Maui gave me a higher level to strive for as a competitor as an athlete. Chaminade’s community helped me focus on what mattered in life which is God, Family and Education. The Maui Invitational and believing that if I went out there and gave my all would get me seen was my motivation. It was also great after every Maui or as the season went along friends talked about what they were doing when a certain play went on and their reaction as well. So a lot of love and appreciation for what we do out there is expressed all throughout the campus.”

“I love Chaminade, but if we don’t capitalize and promote the community we care about and the people in it than we need to lose something like this because we haven’t stepped up to do a great job.”

“It should have started with when we beat Virginia. These occasions are not flukes; we are all capable of rising when put a God given platform.”

“The Maui Invitational has always been a highlight to recruit players from all over the world. It could hurt the program but since Chaminade will always be in Hawaii it could stay the same.

Kiran Shastri on the news that Chaminade will only be participating in the Maui Invitational odd years as of 2018 and on: “I am pretty saddened to hear the news about this. Chaminade has been hosting the invitational for many years. It’s our tournament and they are slowly trying to kick us out it seems like. It’s unfortunate that money is the deciding factor in this decision rather than understanding the foundation that this amazing preseason tournament was built on.”