June Jones nixes return to Hawaii
Hawaii's winningest head coach, June Jones, declined an offer to return to the program Friday.
"We met with Coach Jones earlier today and, unfortunately, could not come to terms with an agreement for him to be our next head football coach," athletic director David Matlin said in a statement. "I understand that there has been a lot of support for Coach Jones this past week, but he has declined our offer. I respect his decision and we need to move forward in our search.
"At the end of the day we couldn't agree on a succession plan that I felt was important for our student-athletes and supporters of Rainbow Warrior football. We are working tirelessly to get a head coach on board to lead our program and are fully aware of the sensitivity to national signing day on Feb. 2."
Hawaii offered Jones a two-year contract with a plan in place for former quarterback Timmy Chang to succeed him, Jones' agent told ESPN's Pete Thamel and Adam Rittenberg. Matlin said he eventually amended the offer to three years. Still, Jones' agent said the school wanted control over staff decisions, which became a sticking point.
Hawaii has been searching for new leadership since Todd Graham resigned under controversial circumstances on Jan. 14. Graham held the job for two seasons.
Jones had expressed interest in a Hawaii reunion and applied for the job, he told Mark Carpenter of Hawaii News Now on Tuesday.
The 68-year-old coached the Rainbow Warriors from 1999-2007, going 76-41 and taking the program to the Sugar Bowl in his final year. He left for SMU in 2008, citing Hawaii's failure to invest in facilities and the football program overall.
Jones most recently coached in the XFL, steering the Houston Roughnecks to a 5-0 record in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to shut down. Before that, he spent time in the CFL, going 14-14 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 2017-18.
The Rainbow Warriors went 6-7 in 2021. Several players entered the transfer portal at the end of the season, intensifying the scrutiny Graham faced for his behavior toward players.