University of Hawaii Todd Graham both dodge big payout as coach makes quick exit


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The University of Hawaii (UH) is waiving the steep break fee that head football coach Todd Graham agreed to pay if he left the program. Always investigate reports about this and other financial implications of leaving.

Graham’s contract has significant payoffs if either party breaks it without cause. Graham resigns without having to pony up.

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UH announced last week that Graham was leaving alone following allegations of player abuse. It was a bit of a relief for those worried about the implications and costs of keeping him or trying to fire him if there had been a motive.

“It was a huge relief,” said Sen. Glenn Wakai, (D) Salt Lake. “It takes a lot away from UH athletics as well as lawmakers and the public. It could have been three very long and tumultuous years if he had wanted to fulfill his contract to the end.

Always Investigating reviewed Graham’s contract signed in 2020. Cutting ties without cause could have cost the university more than $400,000 a year for about three years remaining on the deal, or an unknown amount in legal fees or regulations in case of disagreement on a for-cause cooking.

But this coach chose to go alone. There was a clause for that too. Graham was required to pay UH $1 million if he resigned in 2021, or $800,000 for resigning this year.

UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl told Always Investigating in a statement, “University administration has waived the coach’s obligation.”

“If UH is going to fight him to say, no, give us back our $800,000, that would have been kind of a long and convoluted personnel issue. It wouldn’t have been good either,” Wakai said. “I just think it’s the cleanest way to break this whole relationship.”

“The [UH Board of] Regents need to have an audience,” said Senator Donovan Delacruz, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “I’m not sure of the circumstances that led to his direct resignation, and what led the university to forgive that $800,000, or what led him to forgive collecting his $1.2 million. dollars.”

UH may be able to compensate for lost breakage fees if there is a fundraising benefit.

Fundraising for athletics was doing pretty well before the coaching controversy erupted, expand Ching Field as stadium replacement in record time, soaring UH Foundation giving in the midst of a pandemic and bringing in big money in sponsorships like SimpliFi Arena naming rights for the Stan Sheriff Center.

Always Investigating asked UH if Graham’s dissent ever registered on donation trends?

“I haven’t heard of any fundraising problems. The situation with the football team became public in December,” Meisenzahl said. “There may have been an impact at some point on the road. We will never know now that the coach quit.

“I think if he had been around for another three years, he would have killed sponsorship and ticket sales for the entire football program,” Wakai said. “I think he was so volatile and so controversial that people would have stayed away. “

people like the players were leaving. A mass exodus jumped into the transfer portal. Add to that an uphill recruiting battle amid all the coaching controversy, the lack of a stadium and new transfer rules making it easier to change shirts without sitting out a year.

“If they left because of higher aspirations, that’s one thing,” Wakai said. “But obviously they were leaving for reasons that were just toxic here in Hawaii. The stadium didn’t have much to do with the exodus of people here. I think the stadium is struggling to recruit people. future warriors.

Recruitment for the future will rest entirely on the shoulders of whoever takes Graham’s place.

UH’s pay scale is at the bottom of the barrel compared to not only top conferences, but even within our own.

“Either you go for the keiki or the kupuna because the person who is halfway through his career and really growing in any football program is probably never going to land in Hawaii,” Wakai said. “We will always have to try our luck with promising young coaches. And then when they see success are going to leave just like Rolo did.”

“I think June Jones was one of the best recruits the university has ever made,” Wakai added, referring to the more experienced group of coaches that included Jones, Graham and Norm Chow. “Todd Graham in this ‘AARP group’ could have been one of the worst decisions.”

Lawmakers want to see more transparency in the hiring process and more follow-up from the board on what just happened.

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“We still think they should do an investigation to look at the whole program to make sure that if follow-up is needed, if systemic changes are needed, they can talk about it and they can deal with it,” says Delacruz. “The worst thing that can happen is to quickly deal with this situation in reaction and the same systemic issues exist.”


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