By Ferd Lewis

The state attorney general’s office has approved exemptions from the registration requirements of Hawaii’s charity registration law for two of the University of Hawaii’s major athletic booster groups.

The Na Koa Football Club and ‘Ahahui Koa Anuenue, the athletic booster umbrella organization, need not register, “based upon discussions with the affected organizations and further information they provided to our office …,” Hugh R. Jones, supervising deputy AG for the tax division, said in an email.

In a June 7 letter, the AG’s office asked Na Koa, the official football booster club, to examine whether it should register as a charitable organization that solicits contributions.

UH said the groups fall under the UH Foundation, which oversees all fundraising for the school.

Margot Schrire, spokeswoman for the UH Foundation, said in an email, “The AG’s office has been briefed on the institutional relationships between the UH Foundation, Na Koa, and the other booster clubs, and are clear that all monies solicited by Na Koa and other booster clubs are deposited at the UH Foundation in accordance with Board of Regents policy and NCAA requirements.”

Schrire said, “To avoid any confusion in the future, we are adding new language to our websites, publications and marketing material that will increase the transparency about the institutional relationships of the parties and the processing of donations. It will be clear that the monies end up at the foundation. Additionally, all booster clubs will complete the ‘exemption from registration’ form under Hawaii’s charitable solicitation laws for the AG’s office.”

Schrire said, “Na Koa submitted this form to the AG’s office Tuesday.”

Na Koa said it raises approximately $1 million annually and has nearly 1,000 members. It underwrites the approximately $230,000 cost of summer school and the offseason Warrior Bridge program that helps incoming players get a summer school jump on enrollment. It also helps supply video equipment, knee braces and nutritional supplements.

The article was published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on July 7, 2012.