EXCLUSIVE: Debt woes dog UH coach - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

EXCLUSIVE: Debt woes dog UH coach

As the new coach of the University of Hawaii men's basketball team, Benjy Taylor is entrusted with a $2 million a year program.

But during his coaching career, the 47-year-old Taylor has amassed tens of thousand of dollars in debt, including $12,000 for back child support and a $30,000 outstanding bill with the IRS.

And the attorney for his former wife Wendy said Taylor wracked up $20,000 in additional expenses that she's got stuck with.

"It caused a big financial hardship. She's a single mother," said Thomas Collins.

"What I would like to see done is for coach to step up to the plate and pay the back child support that he owes."

UH Athletic officials said they were not aware of Taylor's financial problems because they only conducted a criminal background check when they hired him, not a credit check.

Along with tax and child support problems, a Hawaii News Now examination of state public records shows that Taylor even had trouble paying his rent, despite earning more than $100,000 a year.

The landlord of a Date Street apartment sued Taylor last year in Small Claims Court downtown after he allegedly bounced two rent checks. Court records show that the apartment owner is still owed about $3,000.

Taylor said his personal financial matters do not interfere with his ability to lead the team.

"I ask that you respect my privacy as my family and I work to resolve this matter, and turn your attention to our upcoming basketball season," he said in a prepared statement.

Athletic Director Ben Jay said the school stands by its coach.

"Coach Taylor has proven his ability to lead the team and bring his players together. He brings stability for our basketball student-athletes," Jay said.

Despite his financial woes, many said Taylor was the natural choice to succeed Gib Arnold, who was fired in the wake of an NCAA investigation of the basketball team. 

Keeping Taylor, they said, helped prevent an exodus of players from the team, even before the season started.

Taylor, who will likely receive a small pay bump as interim coach, will remain at the helm until the end of the year. After that, UH officials plan to conduct an national search.

The UH team opens the season tonight -- with Taylor as its leader -- against Hawaii Pacific University at the Stan Sheriff Center.

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