Graham resigns as UH football coach

Second-year coach had received heavy criticism over treatment of players

Todd Graham led the University of Hawaii football team to a 6-7 overall record this season after going 5-4 in his first season. AP file photo

HONOLULU (AP) — Todd Graham resigned as the University of Hawaii’s football coach Friday, stepping down amid controversy after completing the second year of a five-year contract.

Graham resigned a week after former players and several parents testified before a state legislative hearing, criticizing the coach’s management style and relationships with players. More than a dozen players have entered the transfer portal, including key starters in quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, running back Dae Dae Hunter, wide receiver Nick Mardner and linebacker Darius Muasau.

Graham gave up a $1,275,000 buyout by resigning. Assistant Jacob Yoro will serve as interim head coach while the school searches for a replacement.

“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,” Graham said in a statement released by the university. “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!”

The 57-year-old Graham led Hawaii to a 6-7 overall record this season and 4-7 mark in the Mountain West after going 5-4 overall and 4-4 in the conference in his first season.

“Todd informed me of his decision to resign,” athletic director David Matlin said in a statement. “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.”

State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, called Graham’s resignation “a relief.”

“It’s never an easy process for us as legislators to investigate and call out these types of allegations,” she said in a statement. “With Coach Graham’s resignation, there is an opportunity for the athletics department to find a head coach that will be a better fit for the football program. It is my hope that the next head coach will be someone who will not only help elevate UH football to the next level, but who will also prioritize the physical and emotional well­being of our student athletes.”


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