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Hawai'i HC Todd Graham Steps Down After 2 Seasons amid Misconduct Allegations

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 15, 2022

Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

University of Hawai'i head football coach Todd Graham announced his resignation Friday after two years leading the Rainbow Warriors program.

His decision comes just over a week after the Hawai'i State Senate held a meeting where former players raised concerns about the direction of the team under his leadership.

Graham released a statement about his departure, saying his family and health were the main reasons for the exit, not last week's Senate hearing:

"I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as the Head Football Coach at the University of Hawai'i for the past two seasons. After much prayer and reflection with my family, I have come to the conclusion that I will step away as head coach of the Rainbow Warriors, with a very heavy heart. I want to give my thanks and appreciation to the players, staff and coaches who persevered through all the challenges of 2020 and 2021. It wasn't easy, but they all fought the good fight and we did things the right way.
"Our staff poured our hearts and souls into our players and truly made a difference in their lives. I could not have asked more of their commitment, work ethic and love for our players and football program. But it is clear to me that I must step away and do what is best for me and my family and my health. I honor, value and love all of my players and coaches and I wish you the very best. The University has not asked me to step down. I am leaving solely for my family and my health. We have laid a strong foundation for future success, and I will always be cheering you on!"

Graham was hired in January 2020 after previous stints as the head coach at Rice, Tulsa, Pittsburgh and Arizona State. He compiled an 11-11 record across two seasons, highlighted by a win over Houston in the 2020 New Mexico Bowl.

UH athletic director David Matlin released a statement about the coach's resignation and the announcement noted the search for a new head coach will begin "immediately":

"Todd informed me of his decision to resign. We enjoyed many successes under his leadership even as he faced pandemic conditions, the withdrawal of Aloha Stadium, and the prohibition of any fans for nearly all his time with us. Todd's tireless efforts as a coach have made a positive impact on many student-athletes. We have talked at length, and it is clear he has taken this action so that the football program can thrive moving forward."

Graham's status began to come into question in December when several players spoke out about his coaching tactics to Marc Delucchi of SFGate.

"I would go as far to say it's verbal abuse the way he talks to guys," one player said. "It's personal. It's not like, 'Oh, you need to be faster.' He's calling guys useless, jackass and a sack of s--t."

Another added: "Me and a lot of others can truthfully say Graham has killed our love and passion for football."

Those comments were followed by the State Senate meeting, where players who are no longer with the program provided a similar view of Graham's tactics, per Kyle Chinen of Hawaii News Now.

"I just don't see anything changing with this guy here," former defensive back Leonard 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."

Despite the players' concerns, both Matlin and school president David Lassner expressed support during the meeting for Graham to remain the coach heading toward the 2022 season, per Chinen.

Instead, the program will now begin the process of trying to find Graham's replacement.

The Rainbow Warriors are scheduled to kick off the 2022 campaign Aug. 27 when they host Vanderbilt.

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