HONOLULU (KHON2) — From allegations of verbal abuse to ignoring players’ mental health, players and parents claimed mistreatment from the University of Hawaii’s former head football coach Todd Graham.
The university announced Graham’s decision to step down from his position on Jan. 14.
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The announcement comes a week after a Hawaii Senate committee hearing, where former players alleged mistreatment from Graham. Former UH Football Player Leonard Lee said, “It was hard to wake up and go to practice and do something you love with a guy like that in charge the only way to describe him really is a tyrant.”
Graham denied the accusations.
Graham said, “Those things have not happened, we have obviously been demanding and worked with our kids and coach them hard but we love them hard as well.”
Senator Donna Mercado Kim said the legislature would buy the couch out of his more than $1.2 million contract if the allegations were true.
But because he resigned, a university press release said, “Aside from normal reimbursements and compensation earned, no additional monies will be owed to the coach.”
Mercado Kim said Graham’s decision to separate from the program is for the best.
“There’s that fine line between, you know, toughness and discipline, and then abuse. And I think that’s what happened here,” Mercado Kim said. “And I did not enjoy having to do what we did. But the cries were so loud. And it seemed so serious, that we just felt that it had to be heard.”
Part of a statement from UH Atletic Director David Matlin said, “Todd’s tireless efforts as a coach have made a positive impact on many student-athletes. We talked at length, and it is clear he has taken this action so that the football program can thrive moving forward.
Graham resigns as 18 players entered the transfer portal, most notably former St. Louis quarterback star Chevon Cordeiro and junior linebacker Darius Muasau.
The university said the search for a head coach begins immediately.
“I’m not about to tell the university how to do their job or who to hire,” Mercado Kim said. “But certainly, you know, they need to vet it better. They need to be sure that they pick a coach who understands the culture, understands our island ways.”
Although not everyone was in favor of the involvement from the legislature, A former University of Hawaii Regent Jeff Portnoy said, “Any new coach is going to see how the legislature tried to interfere in something they had absolutely no business interfering.”
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A university spokesperson said an announcement regarding an interim coach and the search for a new head coach could come as early as next week.