Embattled UH head football coach resigns amidst allegations of creating toxic environment

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — University of Hawaii football head coach Todd Graham resigned Friday amid allegations of toxicity within the football program.

Graham, who was hired in January 2020 after the departure of former coach and quarterback Nick Rolovich, compiled an 11-11 record during his UH coaching career. He had just completed the second year of a five-year contract.

The roughly month-long stretch since Hawaii’s last regular season game — and, given the Hawaii Bowl’s COVID-related cancellation, Graham’s last game with Hawaii — has been tumultuous.

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Three days after a 38-14 road win over Wyoming, Dae Dae Hunter, the team’s top rusher, announced he was entering the transfer portal.

And just a day later, starting quarterback Chevan Cordeiro — a prized local born-and-bred rookie who played at Saint Louis School before eventually earning team captain honors with the Rainbow Warriors — also decided. to leave. Cordeiro has since signed with Hawaiian rival San Jose State.

The departures sparked a public airing of grievances on Twitter, where hundreds of people listened to current and former players “describe an unhealthy team culture under Graham”.

Players have complained that an unsettling dressing room environment and an incompetent coach robbed them of their love of the game, with one player simply saying: “I played in a 1-11 team and never felt like that.”

The allegations kept coming in as the days went by, with some players allegedly telling SFGATE that Graham was verbally abusive to players, demeaning to assistant coaches and open that he yearned to use Hawaii as a “springboard” for more lucrative coaching work.

Asked about the complaints in the days that followed, Graham admitted that improvements needed to be made.

“I want to be a role model for our players and we ask them to be able to coach and I think you have to be humble and you have to have self-awareness and you have to improve,” coach Graham said. journalists on December 8. “Obviously our staff, who we spoke to, were committed to doing things the right way and we know we’re doing things the right way.”

But the weeks that followed seem to indicate that little has changed.

On Christmas Eve, the team’s main receiver, Nick Mardner, announced that he was entering the transfer portal. Then, in a series of social media posts on Tuesday, defensive captain and linebacker Darius Muasau, along with linemen Jonah Laulu and Justus Tavai, all revealed they had done the same – making a total of 17 players. who had announced their intention to leave the ‘Arcs.

At a Senate briefing last week, former players said Graham created a toxic locker room environment, driving a wedge between scholarship players and extras.

Some players who were on the team last season portrayed him as bully, hypocritical and verbally abusive.

“I don’t see anything changing with this guy here,” former player and Kapolei High graduate Leonard Lee said during the hearing. “He has a rejection of culture and a lack of respect for the players. I try to see the good in everyone and try to give people a chance, but she is by far the worst person I have ever met in my life.

Following his resignation, Graham said in a statement:

“After many prayers and reflections with my family, I have come to the conclusion that I will be stepping down as head coach of the Rainbow Warriors with a very heavy heart…I am leaving only for my family and my health.”

The university said that because Graham has resigned, no additional monies will be owed to the coach outside of normal reimbursements and compensation earned.

UH Athletic Director David Matlin said, “Todd’s tireless efforts as a coach have had a positive impact on many student-athletes. We spoke at length, and it is clear that he took this step so that the football program can thrive in the future.

Meanwhile, UH linebackers coach Jacob Yoro has been named interim head coach.

The search for the new head coach begins immediately.

This story will be updated.

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