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

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

Graham, who was hired in January 2020 following 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 period since Hawaii’s last regular season game and, given the COVID-related cancellation of the Hawaii Bowl, Graham’s last game with Hawaii, has been a tumultuous one.

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Three days after a 38-14 road win against Wyoming, Dae Dae Hunter, the team’s running back leader, announced that he was entering the transfer portal.

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

The departures prompted a public stream of complaints on Twitter, where hundreds listened as current and former players “described an unhealthy team culture under Graham.”

Players complained that a problematic locker room environment and an incompetent coach had robbed them of their love for the game, with one player saying simply, “I’ve played on a 1-11 team and I’ve never felt like this.”

The accusations continued to pour in as the days passed, with some players allegedly telling SFGATE that Graham verbally abused players, degrading to the assistant coaches and open about the fact that he aspired to use Hawaii as a “springboard” for a more lucrative coaching job.

When asked about the claims in the days after they were made, Graham admitted that improvements were needed.

“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 be self-aware and you have to get better,” Coach Graham said. reporters on December 8. “Obviously we talked about our staff, who were committed to doing things the right way and we know we do things the right way.”

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

On Christmas Eve, the team’s main catcher, Nick Mardner, announced that he would enter the transfer portal. Then, in a series of social media posts Tuesday, defensive captain and linebacker Darius Muasau, along with linemen Jonah Laulu and Justus Tavai, revealed they had done the same, bringing the total to 17 players who had announced their intentions. to leave the ‘Arcos.

At a Senate briefing last week, former players testified that Graham created a toxic environment in the locker room, driving a divide between scholarship and standing players.

Some players who were on the team last season called him tyrannical, hypocritical and verbally abusive.

“I just don’t see anything changing with this guy here,” former player and Kapolei High graduate Leonard Lee told the audience. “He has a rejection of the culture and a lack of respect for the players. I try to see the good in everyone and I try to give people opportunities, but he is without a doubt the worst person I have ever met in my life.”

Following his resignation, Graham said in a statement:

“After much prayer and reflection with my family, I have come to the conclusion that I will be retiring as head coach of the Rainbow Warriors, with a very heavy heart…I am leaving solely for my family and my health.”

The university said that due to Graham’s resignation, no additional money will be owed to the coach beyond normal refunds and compensation earned.

UH Athletics Director David Matlin said, “Todd’s tireless efforts as a coach have had a positive impact on many student-athletes. We have talked a lot and it is clear that he has taken this action so that the football program can prosper 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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