Former Hawai'i Football Players Slam HC Todd Graham in State Senate Hearing

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2022

HONOLULU, HI - SEPTEMBER 18: Hawaii head coach Todd Graham before the game against the San Jose State Spatans at the Clarance T.C. Ching Complex on September 18, 2021 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

Several former University of Hawai'i football players lamented the direction of the Warriors' program under head coach Todd Graham, who was hired in January 2020.

KHON's Christian Shimabuku reported RJ Hollis, Leonard Lee, Darryl McBride Jr., Derek Thomas, Justin Uahinui and Rod York were among the speakers at a Hawai'i State Senate hearing on the topic Friday:

"Every single person who provided on-the-record testimony via Zoom on Friday all shared concerns about the direction of the program under Graham and how the culture of the program has been gradually lost during his tenure due to how players have been treated by the current regime. Common themes include a lack of respect towards players and not seeing eye-to-eye with Graham and his methods."

Hawai'i athletic director David Matlin defended the coach, saying not all of the comments made about him during the session were true, and Graham answered questions from state Senators about issues within the program, per Shimabuku.

Graham has guided the Warriors to an 11-11 record across his first two seasons. They won the New Mexico Bowl over Houston in 2020 and were scheduled to face Memphis in the Hawai'i Bowl last month before it was canceled amid COVID-19 concerns.

Lee said he believes the program will trend in the wrong direction if Graham is retained, according to Kyle Chinen of Hawai'i News Now.

"I just don't see anything changing with this guy here," Lee said. "He has a rejection of the culture and a lack of respect for players. I try to see the good in everybody and try to give people chances, but he's hands down the worst person I ever met in my life."

Thomas called his former coach a "hypocrite."

Graham said the following about allegations of verbal abuse, per Chinen.

"I can't speak for the people that have talked today and the comments that have been made, but all I know is that in our program, no one has been verbally abused," he said. "Obviously, we are not perfect and don't claim to be."

Hawai'i marks the fifth head coaching stop of Graham's collegiate coaching career. He previously led the Rice, Tulsa, Pittsburgh and Arizona State programs. His career record stands at 106-72.

Both Matlin and school president David Lassner confirmed their support for Graham as the program turns its focus to the 2022 season, per Chinen.

The Warriors will kick off the new campaign Aug. 27 when they host Vanderbilt.