HONOLULU (KHON2) — The University of Hawaii (UH) is expediting the hiring of a football coach to replace Todd Graham, moving quickly to maximize a player recruiting window and shortening the usual university hiring timeline. Always Investigating has the details.
KHON2 also learned that while the hire will not be vetted in open committee, the athletics director is working with a group of advisers whom the university is declining to name before a hire is made. A new coach could be on board as soon as this week.
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No sooner had Graham quit Friday, Jan. 14, than his job went up for grabs on the U.H. career portal. Candidates had to act quickly, though. The review of applicants began Wednesday afternoon — a 5-day window.
“National Letter of Intent Day is on Feb. 2,” said UH spokesperson Dan Meisenzahl. “We need to get this position filled as soon as possible.”
So soon that the state’s largest public worker union, of which coaches are members, had to sign off on an exception to the 10-day minimum university job posting requirement.
“Given the nature of Coach Graham’s departure and the need to get a head coach in place quickly as recruiting is critical, the HGEA agreed with UH to waive the normal vacancy posting period in favor of an expedited 5-day posting,” said HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira.
The university said an EEO or Equal Employment Opportunity office exception is not needed.
“The policies were followed. Nothing was violated,” Meisenzahl said. “This isn’t the first time that we’ve had these types of urgent hires. We’re still going to do it correctly. We’re not going to rush the process.”
Lawmakers who grilled UH about strife on the team under Graham said the process is moving too quickly and too much is behind the curtain.
“Athletic Director (David) Matlin is always working with a team of advisers and seeking out advice and consulting others, including local business leaders, former players,” Meisenzahl explained. “This particular process, the deadline is so tight, he’s still working with a group of people to help make sure that he selects the right individual.”
Always Investigating asked who is in that group of advisers this time around?
“We’re not going to state names,” Meisenzahl said. “Perhaps after the process is complete we can, but as I think everybody knows who’s following this process, there’s an unbelievable amount of pressure out there for people who think they know who the next coach should be. We don’t want people who are advising A.D. Matlin to also fall under the influence of people. He wants to talk to people without having to fear about their names getting out there.”
The coaching hire does have to be approved by UH President David Lassner.
“It’s obvious that President Lassner is fully engaged in this process with Athletic Director Matlin and his team,” Meisenzahl added.
Regents have to sign off on big-ticket salary ranges and any contract over five years.
Some lawmakers said it is not too late for an open, named-committee screening panel.
“I hope that they bring in enough people and the right people to help them make the right selection,” Dela Cruz said. “Looking at someone’s past, looking at their potential and looking at their history at other universities or other organizations and the impact that they had, and hopefully, a positive impact and making sure that that’s the right match for the university and for the state.”
UH asserts the 5-day application window is plenty in a case like this because the job is so high profile.
“This wasn’t something that happened out of the blue, there was a lot of national coverage around the football team, unfortunately, for the wrong reasons,” Meisenzahl continued. “I think it’s widely known that the head coaching position was opened at the University of Hawaii. I don’t think we had to do much to advertise it. And also, we know by the response that we received, we know that coaches that might be looking for an opportunity were aware of the position, so I think we won’t have any shortage of candidates.”
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UH will not say how many have applied so far. The job advertisement is marked “continuous recruitment,” meaning after Wednesday night:
“Of course, someone could get hired at any point after this. But at the same time, more people could apply,” Meisenzahl said. “And if (University of Alabama) Nick Saban applies for the head coaching job at UH football, you know, we might stop what we’re doing and take a look at those applicants. A lot of things could happen, someone could be offered a job, it doesn’t work out, more applications come in.”