Hawaiian soccer coach Todd Graham, faced with mounting allegations of assaulting players on the program, resigned Friday after two seasons at the school.
Graham’s decision comes a week after a state Senate hearing in which former players testified about verbal abuse and other issues within football program culture. Athletic director David Matlin and other administrators continued to support Graham despite the allegations and the departures of 17 players via the NCAA transfer portal since November.
In a statement, Graham said he has not been asked to resign after two seasons and an 11-11 record. He had three years left on a five-year contract and was making $800,000 a year.
“Our staff has poured heart and soul into our players and really made a difference in their lives,” Graham said in a prepared statement. “I could not have asked for more from their commitment, work ethic and love for our players and the football program. But it is clear to me that I must stop and do what is best for me and my family and my health. I honour, appreciate and love all my players and coaches and I wish you all the best. The university did not ask me to resign. I am leaving only for my family and my health. We have laid a strong foundation for future success, and I will always be with you encourage!”
Former players called Graham a “tyrant” and a “hypocrite” during the Senate hearing, while Graham said no player was verbally abused and he operates with a demanding coaching style. Hawaii state senator Donna Mercado Kim told KHON-TV on Tuesday that the state could pay Graham’s remaining $1,275 million buyout.
Accusations against Graham first surfaced Dec. 1 during a Twitter Spaces discussion hosted by former players RJ Hollis and Darryl McBride Jr., and then in an SFGATE.com story in which several players spoke out against Graham.
Graham, 57, was previously a head coach at Arizona State, Pitt, Tulsa and Rice, and has a career record of 106-72.
“Todd’s tireless efforts as a coach have positively impacted many student athletes,” Matlin said in a prepared statement. “We talked for a long time and it is clear that he has taken this action to move the football program forward.”
Hawai’i immediately starts looking for Graham’s successor.