Hawaii coach resigns amid spate of transfers, senate hearings

By , Audacy Sports

Hawaii coach Todd Graham resigned on Friday, following allegations that he instilled a toxic and abusive culture in the school's football program.

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A series of defections by former players entering the college football transfer portal -- including Graham's own son, Michael -- prompted legislative hearings by the state senate, where, in recent days, players and parents testified to Graham's bullying and demeaning behavior.

Graham, in a statement released by the university, made clear he was not asked to step down, and said he made his decision "with a very heavy heart," according to the Associated Press. The school's athletic director, David Matlin, had previously stood by Graham, who admitted during the hearings to having a hard-driving coaching style.

“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. “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 stepped down just two years into a five-year deal, leaving behind three years and an annual salary of $800,000. The 57-year-old longtime coach had previous stops as a head coach with Rice, Tulsa, Pitt, and six years with Arizona State from 2012-17.

During the hearings, some players called Graham a "tyrant" and a "hypocrite," while others detailed vulgar language. One account claimed Graham had trashed Hawaii as a "third-world country" when he discovered that a soda vending machine didn't have his favorite soft drink -- Dr. Pepper.

Still, Matlin thanked Graham for his service.

"Todd's tireless efforts as a coach have made a positive impact on many student-athletes," Matlin said in a prepared statement. "We have talked at length, and it is clear he has taken this action so that the football program can thrive moving forward."

Linebackers coach Jacob Yoro was promoted to interim head coach.

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