UH still won’t say why it waived Todd Graham termination fee
The sudden resignation of Todd Graham as University of Hawaii football coach ended weeks of speculation about the future of the program and what it would cost UH to oust him.
But his contract with the university included a resignation clause with an $800,000 termination fee. Instead of sticking it with the bill on release, UH decided to waive that fee. Now officials won’t explain why.
Graham had come under intense scrutiny from onlookers and state lawmakers after several football players accused the former coach of creating a hostile environment.
Graham, UH athletic director Dave Matlin, and Derek Inouchi, a department spokesman, declined to say why the former coach was released from the termination fee.
Inouchi only referred to a statement from the department which did not address the charges but said that “other than normal refunds and compensation earned, no additional monies will be due to the Coach.
In a separate statement, Graham said he was leaving the program for his family and his health.
Graham’s firing would instead have cost the university more than $400,000 a year, for a total of about $1.2 million to cover the remaining three years of his tenure.
The UH board of directors also discussed the football program during a Jan. 20 meeting. They discussed athlete mental health issues and communication channels for student-athletes, but never touched on who decided to waive Graham’s breakup fee and what that decision was like. do.
Senator Donna Mercado Kim, who has criticized the university, said she was unaware that UH had waived the termination fee.
“I didn’t realize that if he left he would owe us money. But the fact that he’s gone, and that we didn’t have to sue him or pay him to get out of contract, I think it’s a win-win situation for everyone.” , she said.
Mercado Kim said she believed it would have done more harm than good had Graham served the rest of his term.
“Having forced him to pay us, I think it was a compromise and a small amount for what might have been had he stayed,” she said.
The Senate Ways and Means and Higher Education Committees hosted a briefing with Matlin and UH President David Lassner on Jan. 7 to address public concerns and hear testimony from the player and the public.
“I was really disturbed when, you know, the president, after hearing the families and the athletes raise these concerns, the main thing he said was ‘you’ve been chosen,'” Mercado Kim said.
At the same hearing, Matlin characterized the players’ public testimonies as a small group of malcontents.
“It’s a subset of players, and there are issues, but there’s more to the story,” Matlin said during the hearing. “There are more testimonials out there. There are more people who see another side of it.
Kim says this is an opportunity for the university to find a coach who will meet the specific needs of the the university, the athletic department, the athletes and the state.
“I think the coach has to be a coach who understands our culture, understands Hawaii and is able to be a strong coach,” she said, “but at the same time respects the players and treats the players with dignity.”