Amid criticism, UH athletic director defends process of hiring new football coach

University of Hawaii Athletic Director David Matlin apologized but said the hiring process wasn't rigged in favor of former UH quarterback Timmy Chang.
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 4:50 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 5:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - University of Hawaii Athletic Director David Matlin apologized to former UH football coach June Jones on Tuesday, but said the hiring process wasn’t rigged to favor former UH quarterback Timmy Chang.

“I want to apologize for the way things played out. I really wish things had gone differently,” said Matlin, during an availability with reporters.

“It wasn’t a done deal. ... I was on board to have June and with Timmy as the coach-in-waiting as my first choice.”

But Matlin also admitted that Chang was the frontrunner before Jones applied for the job and that Chang would be designated as Jones’ successor if Jones was picked as coach.

Talks with Jones broke down on Friday after his representatives alleged that UH would only offer a two-year contract, crippling his chances to recruit top prospects.

UH officials said that they had increased their offer to three years and were willing to further negotiate the terms of the deal before talks broke down.

Matlin and the UH have also come under fire for a bizarre news conference Saturday in which UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl questioned Jones’ character, blamed him for the breakdown in talks and accused him of orchestrating a lobbying blitz for the job.

“This public campaign ― it’s ugly. A petition to fire Matlin, the phone numbers of both A.D. Matlin and President (David) Lassner were shared on social media to flood their offices with calls. This is pilau,” Meisenzahl said.

On Tuesday, Matlin distanced himself from those statements. “Well, I wasn’t a part of that press conference,” he said.

Added Meisenzahl: “The news conference was my idea. It was something I initiated. A lot of it was in response to what was said publicly and on social media,” he said.

The outcry over the coaching controversy has prompted some to call for Matlin’s resignation, which he said he has contemplated. “Well, no, I have not offered my resignation. ... Have I pondered it with what’s going on in the last few weeks? Yes,” he said.

“But you know, I serve at the pleasure of the university, and as long as I’m going to serve it, I’m going to get up every day and to make things better.”

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