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Sport: Why did Todd Graham resign? Hawaii football coach quits amid abuse allegations, transfers

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Todd Graham's tenure as Hawaii football coach is over after two seasons. Graham resigned Friday night.

"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," he said in a statement released by the university.

The decision to leave came a week after two state Senate committees heard harsh testimony from former players who accused Graham of abusive behavior and creating a toxic culture inside the program. Graham denied the claims and UH athletic director David Matlin, who also testified at the meeting, expressed support for the coach.

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Hawaii was 11-11 under Graham. It qualified for bowl games both seasons but chose not to play in the 2021 Hawaii Bowl, citing COVID-19 and roster issues.

Why did Todd Graham resign as Hawaii coach?

Graham had been under pressure to quit or be fired since the end of the Rainbow Warriors' season. Players accused him of being a verbally abusive "tyrant" who created a toxic culture within the program. Seventeen UH players, including quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, have entered the transfer portal since late November.

A group of former players made damning statements during testimony at a Jan. 7 meeting about Graham conducted by the Hawaii Senate's Ways and Means and Higher Education committees.

"I try to see the good in everybody and give people chances, but he is hands-down the worst guy I've ever met in my life," former linebacker Henry Lee said of Graham, per KITV.com. Lee was dismissed from the team after the initial criticism of Graham, mwwire.com reported.

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Graham testified that no verbal abuse occurred.

"I’ve tried to clean up some of the language things. We’re not perfect and don’t claim to be. All I can tell you is my experience within that locker room and with our team, and those things have not happened. We have been demanding and worked with our kids and coached them hard, but have loved them hard as well," he said, per KITV.

Graham expressed a similar sentiment as he announced his resignation.

"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," he said.

What is Todd Graham's contract status?

Graham resigned with three years remaining on a five-year, $3.96 million contract. UH pointed out in its statement that it owes Graham no additional money because he resigned. The Star-Advertiser of Honolulu reported that Hawaii would have had to pay Graham $1.275 million to buy out his contract, although Matlin said last week that he would stick with Graham even if money for the buyout was raised.

Graham was scheduled to make $800,000 a year from 2022 through 2024. His contract also included incentives.

Who will replace Todd Graham as Hawaii coach?

Linebackers coach Jacob Yoro was appointed interim head coach. Yoro has been a Rainbow Warriors coach since 2017. UH said in its statement that the search for a full-time coach would begin immediately.

There was a push on Twitter in the early moments after Graham's resignation for Hawaii to bring back former head coach June Jones, who led the program to a 75-41 record from 1999 through 2007 and a berth in the Sugar Bowl in the 2007 season.

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