Hawaiian soccer coach Todd Graham, who is facing mounting allegations of player abuse on the program, resigned Friday after two seasons with the school.
Graham’s decision comes a week after a Senate hearing in which former players gave testimony alleging verbal abuse and other problems with the football program’s culture. Athletic director David Matlin and other administrators have remained supportive of Graham despite allegations and 17 players leaving through the NCAA transfer portal since November.
Graham said in a statement that he was not asked to step down after two seasons and scored 11-11. He had three years left on his five-year contract and was earning $800,000 annually.
“Our staff put our hearts and souls into our players and they made a real difference in their lives,” Graham said in a prepared statement. “I could not have asked for more of their commitment, work ethic and love for our players and football programme. But it is clear to me that I have to step away and do what is best for me, my family and my health. I am proud of that, I appreciate and love all my players and coaches and wish you well. The university did not ask me to Step aside. I am leaving only for the sake of my family and my health. We have laid a solid foundation for future success, and I will always encourage you!”
Former players called Graham a “tyrant” and “hypocrite” during the Senate hearing, while Graham said no players had been verbally abused and that he was operating in a demanding training style. Hawaii Senator Donna Mercado Kim told KHON-TV Tuesday that the state may pay the remainder of Graham’s $1.275 million purchase deal.
The allegations against Graham first surfaced on December 1 during a discussion on Twitter Spaces organized by former players RJ Hollis and Darryl McBride Jr. Then in the SFGATE.com story where many players spoke out against Graham.
Graham, 57, previously served as head coach at Arizona State, Pete, Tulsa and Rice and boasts a career record of 106-72.
“Todd’s tireless efforts as a coach have made a positive impact on many student-athletes,” Matlin said in a prepared statement. “We’ve talked at length and he has obviously taken this action so that the football program can thrive going forward.”
Hawaii will immediately begin the search for Graham’s successor.