Just prior to the start of the 2014-15 season Hawai’i parted ways with head coach Gib Arnold, with an NCAA investigation into major rules violations sparking the decision. Arnold took the school to court for the remaining money on his contract, and on Thursday the school announced that the legal battle has reached its conclusion.
The University of Hawai’i Board of Regents approved a $700,000 settlement, with Arnold receiving $500,000 and his attorney $200,000. The first payment will be made November 30, with the attorney receiving his full payment and Arnold getting $100,000.
Arnold’s portion of the settlement will be completed with payments of $200,000 on January 15, 2016 and January 15, 2017.
“It’s time for the university to move past this chapter in the history of UH men’s basketball,” UH Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman said in a release. “It is the best thing for UH and it is the best thing for the program. Now we can turn our full focus to the future and the players and coaches, as they prepare for the upcoming season.”
The school self-reported violations that were traced back to 2013, with Arnold and then-assistant coach Brandyn Akana being relieved of their duties and star forward Isaac Fotu leaving the program around the same time.The school announced its self-imposed sanctions back in mid-May. The NCAA has yet to offer a final ruling on the investigation.
Benjy Taylor took over as interim head coach as a result, leading the Rainbow Warriors to the Big West tournament final where they lost to UC Irvine. This spring Hawai’i hired former Saint Mary’s assistant Eran Ganot as the program’s new head coach.
Hawaii has named a coach for the 2014-15 season after firing former head coach Gib Arnold and assistant coach Brandyn Akana on Oct. 28. The Rainbow Warriors named Arnold’s associate head coach Benjy Taylor as the acting head coach, according to a release from the school.
“Benjy will provide leadership and guidance for the UH men’s basketball program,” Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay said in the release. “while ensuring that our student-athletes continue to pursue athletic and academic success. The student-athletes have expressed to me their desire to have Benjy at the helm and that is how we will proceed as we prepare for the start of the 2014-15 season.”
Taylor is a former head coach at Chicago State from 2007-2010 and went 39-53 in three seasons. The 47-year-old Taylor has been an assistant coach at Hawaii since 2012 and can likely give some instant comfort to a program that needs to move on quickly from recent scandal and investigation as the season approaches.
Hawaii finished 20-11 and 9-7 in the Big West last season and also received bad news when junior forward Isaac Fotu, an All-Big West selection last season and a preseason All-Big West choice heading into the 2014-15 season, was declared ineligible in the NCAA’s investigation into the program.
This will be an uphill battle for Taylor, but with the season begin so shortly, this is probably the best short-term solution for the team.
During last season news of the Hawaii basketball program being investigated by the NCAA surfaced, with the NCAA interviewing head coach Gib Arnold and assistants Brandyn Akana and Benjy Taylor in June. Akana’s case is an interesting one as he was suspended 30 days by the school, resulting in his missing 12 of the Rainbow Warriors’ final 14 games, after the school notified the NCAA in January of a potential rules violation involving a player who was looking to transfer to Hawaii.
Since those interviews the NCAA has continued to work on the case, with the interview portion investigation reportedly coming to a conclusion on Friday. Now the school has to wait for the NCAA to send an official Notice of Allegations, but according to the Ferd Lewis and Brian McInnis of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser it may not take an official notice for the school to take action as the step of self-imposing sanctions is being considered.
Athletic director Ben Jay said, “we’re having internal discussions, we’re having talks with our people as to some of the things that we might do.” But, he said, “Nothing is solid yet.”
Jay declined to say if coaches and or players will be suspended or terminated.
“It is still a work in progress,” he said.
The report of Hawaii considering self-imposing sanctions came on the heels of Arnold releasing a statement to the Star-Advertiser in which he looked to reassure fans that the program is headed in the right direction. “We have yet to even receive a notice of any possible allegations from the NCAA,” Arnold wrote in the statement.
“Nor have we been given our mandated 90 days to respond to any allegations. If there has been anything administratively in our program where we have fallen short we will learn from it and correct it immediately.”
Based upon Arnold’s statement he clearly wants to wait things out, preferring to hear something from the NCAA before taking action. But does the administration feel the same way? Based upon the athletic director’s comments to the Star-Advertiser, it’s clear that there is the possibility of the school taking action before receiving word from the NCAA.