June Jones-Hawaii reunion stalls after sides rip each other over negotiations

He has been anything but a banner in recent months for the Hawaii soccer program. In December, multiple Rainbow Warrior players made claims to the San Francisco Chronicle of verbal and emotional abuse by then-coach Todd Graham. A month later, Graham was brought before two Hawaiian Senate committees to testify under oath about what was going on in the show.

A week after that, Graham resigned after two seasons and an 11-11 record at Manoa. The university has been looking for his replacement ever since, and it seemed a reunion with June Jones, the winningest coach in program history, was on the way.

Both sides were still interested on Friday, but then things quickly and publicly deteriorated.

Jones began by suppressing rumors of a comeback. He told local media that while he was still interested in the job, he couldn’t take it as it was introduced to him by athletic director David Matlin. He went into detail about the process after leaving the negotiations; in particular, he listed stipulations with which he particularly disagreed.

“I’d still like the job, but I haven’t really been offered a job that’s conducive to winning. How are you going to recruit when you only have a two-year contract?” I told Dave [Matlin] I’ll take a five-year contract and I can be fired at any time, without penalty,” Jones said. “How are you going to recruit when kids want to know who will be their coach for the next four or five years? ”

Regardless of the length of the contract, Jones was particularly against the notion of giving up control of personnel decisions. Hawaii’s management reportedly has a succession plan in place, and it includes Jones hiring Colorado State wide receivers coach Timmy Chang, who was a star quarterback with Jones in Hawaii from 2000 to 2004.

“I’ve never taken a job that dictated who I can hire and who I can’t, and I don’t think any coach in their right mind would take a job like that,” he said. “They offered, but what they offered was not acceptable.”

Jones, 68, managed the Rainbow Warriors from 1999-2007. He won two conference titles, won games in double figures three times and led the program to a top-15 ranking in his final season. Hawaii was 0-12 the season before Jones arrived and had lost 18 straight games.

As much as the contract length and personnel decisions bothered Jones, he said his familiarity with the show led him to consider returning.

“It’s not about money. It’s about nothing more than trying to help the local kids and the people of Hawaii and the support has been amazing everywhere I go,” she said. “Hopefully they’ll reconsider. It’s not that I don’t know how to change a program and it’s not that it’s something different or revolutionary from when I was here before.”

Then the Hawaii administration responded. Through spokesman Dan Meisenzahl, he criticized Jones for his handling of the negotiations, saying he was not “honest.”

Jones said he’s still interested in the job, but the ball is in Hawaii’s court.

As for whether the feeling of a meeting is mutual, UH said the job is still open.