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UH officials grilled in Senate hearing on allegations of turmoil within football program

The state of Rainbow Warriors football was under the microscope at the State Capitol on Friday.
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 8:56 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 7, 2022 at 9:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state of Rainbow Warriors football was under the microscope at the State Capitol on Friday.

State lawmakers grilled University of Hawaii officials and heard testimony from football players against Head Coach Todd Graham.

Multiple testimonies alleged the second-year coach created a toxic locker room environment, generating a divide between scholarship players and walk-ons.

Some players who were on the team last season painted him as a tyrant, a hypocrite and verbally abusive.

“I just don’t see anything changing with this guy here,” former player and Kapolei High graduate, Leonard Lee said in the hearing. “He has a rejection of the culture and a lack of respect for players. I try to see the good in everybody and try to give people chances, but he’s hands down the worst person I ever met in my life.”

“Coach Graham would preach about religion and being a good person and being faithful and moral and honest and he was almost none of them,” former player Derek Thomas said. “I mean he was a hypocrite.”

During the hearing, Graham defended himself, saying he has a demanding coaching style, something he feels the players deserve.

“I can’t speak for the people that have talked today and the comments that have been made, but all I know is that in our program, no one has been verbally abused,” Graham said. “Obviously, we are not perfect and don’t claim to be.”

Following the testimony, UH leadership took aim at the Senate leaders, calling the testimony “cherry picked” to paint a negative picture — with supporters of the coach not invited to speak publicly.

“We were told people could not testify in person,” UH President David Lassner said. “I read every bit of written testimony, my heart is wrenched also at what we just heard — I understand that, but this process is unbelievable.”

“There’s more to the story, there’s more testimony out there,” UH Athletics Director David Matlin said. “There’s more people that see another side of it.”

Lassner and Matlin went on to double down on their support of Graham going forward into the 2022 football season.

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