After controversy over the University of Hawaii’s decision to keep new football coach Norm Chow’s exact salary a secret, Chow himself has gone public with the information: It’s $550,000.

“Coach Chow appreciates the University maintaining his personal privacy and the general public’s understanding, but he does not want the curiosity of a few to detract from the reasons he chose to return home,” UH Athletics spokesman Derek Inouchi said in an email. “Coach Chow has therefore decided to disclose that the exact amount of his salary under his current employment agreement with the University of Hawaii is $550,000 annually.”

The university released Chow’s contract last week, but redacted his exact salary, breaking its practice of releasing exact compensation for UH’s last two football coaches. Instead, the university provided Chow’s salary range: $392,142 to $935,544. UH officials said state law allowed for “a right to personal privacy” as to his exact compensation.

But that’s inaccurate. State law does not mention privacy reasons, but allows for a range to be released when an employee is a member of a union. Chow is part of the Hawaii Government Employees Association‘s Bargaining Unit 8.

When asked why UH officials were treating Chow’s salary differently from previous coaches’, they cited the university’s “Executive Policy” regarding coaches and salaries [pdf]. But the document doesn’t discuss disclosure requirements.

The university was upfront about former head coach Greg McMackin’s compensation, releasing his contract and exact salary in response to Civil Beat’s public records requests. For the last two years, he has been the state’s highest paid government employee with a base salary of $1.1 million.

UH treated McMackin’s predecessor June Jones similarly. Jones’ exact compensation was the subject of a June 2003 press release. He was paid $400,008 by UH, with another $400,008 coming from private contributions, according to the release.

It’s unclear whether Chow will also receive extra compensation through private funds.

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