Todd Graham has resigned as the University of Hawaii football team’s head coach.
Graham had been embroiled in controversy since December, when several players spoke out about the difficult environment fostered under his two-year leadership.
By resigning, Graham forfeits the $1.275 million it would have cost to buy out the three remaining years of his five-year contract.
This evening, UH is posting the job opening on its website. Assistant Jaocb Yoro has been named interim head coach.
In a statement released through UH, Graham wrote: “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at the University of Hawai‘i for the past two seasons. 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. 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, who was hired in January 2020 as successor to Nick Rolovich, was 11-11 in two seasons as UH head coach.
But at the end of the regular season, quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, running back Dae Dae Hunter and cornerback Cameron Lockridge entered the transfer portal. After that, several players voiced their discontent during a Twitter Space forum that raised accusations of Graham’s leadership leading to mental issues for some players.
After UH pulled out of the Hawaii Bowl following a team vote — in which several cited the lack of available players because of injuries, COVID-19 exposure and competitive disadvantage — linebacker Darius Muasau and defensive ends Jonah Laulu and Justus Tavai also entered the portal. The departures led to some lawmakers calling for an investigative hearing on the situation. The Board of Regents also was set to address the matter at its meeting next Thursday.
“Todd informed me of his decision to resign,” UH athletics director David Matlin said. “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.”
It is not known if his staff also will be displaced. Their one-year contracts run through June.
Graham had three years remaining on a five-year contract that paid an estimated $800,000 annually.
For more Hawaii football, visit the Warrior Beat blog.