UH football players arrested in McCully after argument


Two University of Hawaii football players were arrested Tuesday morning after police officers responded to an argument in McCully.

It happened on McCully Street, about an hour before training camp was scheduled to begin.

Upon arrival, officers saw two people fighting through a second-floor window. They eventually located Kennedy Tulimasealii.

According to police sources, officers used pepper spray after he tried to run and resisted arrest. He was arrested for abuse, harassment, resisting arrest, and contempt.

During the arrest, Kaaumoana Gifford was arrested for obstruction. Sources say he was also pepper-sprayed as he tried to intervene.

Both Tulimasealii and Gifford were released after posting bail: Tulimasealii at $5,650 and Gifford at $500.

The two players from Waianae are on the team’s defensive line. They were arrested about an hour before day seven of training camp was slated to begin.

Both face likely suspensions and possible dismissal. According to sources, it’s likely that official sanctions from the team, school and/or conference would be handed down following court dates.

Head coach Nick Rolovich released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying:

I learned this morning about an incident involving two of our student-athletes. I immediately had a conversation with Athletics Director David Matlin. We are now in the phase of information gathering and will follow the process as it pertains to the Student-Athlete Handbook and University Code of Conduct. Collectively, we will make a decision at the appropriate time.

I also want to take this opportunity to say that when a student-athlete puts on a UH football uniform, they represent the team, the program, the university, the fans and the entire state of Hawai’i. We hold our players to high standards of conduct and we take that very seriously. They must not only understand that, but embrace it because it is a privilege to be a Rainbow Warrior and an honor to represent the school and the people of Hawai’i.

The ‘Bows will be delivered a devastating loss on defense, especially if their actions lead to the removal from the team.

Tulimasealii, a captain in 2014, was an All-Conference First-Team selection, ranking 19th in the country with 18.5 tackles for loss and undeniably the team’s top NFL prospect.

Gifford, who started four games as a freshman last season, was expected to play a key role in the defensive line rotation as an elite pass-rusher.

KHON2 spoke to former UH football player and coach Rich Miano, who is now a KHON2 Cover2 analyst, about the challenges the program faces going forward.

As someone who’s been around the game of football his entire life, Miano says anytime a new coach comes into a program, whether it be high school, college, or the pros, a discussion with players on the “code of conduct” and expected behavior is usually one of the first items on the agenda.

“There’s no question that the parameters, the rules have already been set forth,” he said.

Miano says overseeing as many as a hundred or more players 24/7 is difficult, if not impossible, and that an incident like what happened Tuesday morning is every coach’s greatest nightmare.

“Every single head coach in America that has 110 football players goes to bed every night thinking, ‘I hope when I wake up tomorrow, none of these young men get in trouble,'” he said. “The one positive you can look at is the fact that when you do discipline your best player, it sends a resounding message to every single person on that team that nobody is bigger than the team, and there are rules and there are ramifications.”

Miano also says regardless of what comes out of the police investigation, the incident will prove to be a major test, not only for Coach Rolovich, but for his boss.

“It’s a huge test for the athletics director Dave Matlin as well, because he’s going to have to get involved,” Miano said.

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