Hawaiian football coach Todd Graham resigned Friday after two seasons at the school, facing mounting accusations of mistreating players on the program.
Graham’s decision comes a week after a state Senate hearing in which former players provided testimony alleging verbal abuse and other problems within the culture of the football program. Athletic director David Matlin and other administrators continued to support Graham despite the allegations and the departures of 17 players through the NCAA’s transfer portal since November.
In a statement, Graham said he was not asked to resign after two seasons and an 11-11 record. He had three years left on a five-year contract and was earning $800,000 annually.
“Our staff poured our hearts and souls into our players and really made a difference in their lives,” Graham said in a prepared statement. “I couldn’t have asked for more of his commitment, work ethic and love for our players and soccer program. But I am clear that I must step aside and do what is best for myself, my family and my health. I honor him.” I value and love all of my players and coaches and wish them the best. The University has not asked me to resign. I am leaving solely for my family and my health. We have laid a solid foundation for future success, and I will always thank you! I’ll be cheering!”
Former players called Graham a “tyrant” and a “hypocrite” during the Senate hearing, while Graham said no players were verbally abused and that he operates a demanding coaching style. Hawaii State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim told KHON-TV on Tuesday that the state could pay Graham’s remaining purchase of $1.275 million.
The allegations against Graham first surfaced Dec. 1 during a Twitter Spaces discussion hosted by former players RJ Hollis and Darryl McBride Jr., and later in an SFGATE.com story in which multiple players spoke out against Graham.
Graham, 57, previously served as head coach at Arizona State, Pitt, Tulsa and Rice, and has a career record of 106-72.
“Todd’s tireless efforts as a coach have had a positive impact on many student-athletes,” Matlin said in a prepared statement. “We have talked at length and it is clear that he has taken this action so that the football program can thrive in the future.”
Hawaii will immediately begin the search for Graham’s successor.