Two days after he was removed as UH men’s basketball head coach, Gib Arnold says he still isn’t sure why he was fired.
Both Arnold and assistant coach Brandyn Akana were dismissed without cause earlier this week.
On Thursday, Arnold spoke for the first time, inviting KHON2 and other media into his Kailua home.
It’s been 10 months since Arnold self-reported a NCAA violation for what he called an honest mistake to a document that was to be submitted for enrollment purposes.
The report led to a seven-month investigation into his program in which no formal allegations have been revealed.
To this day, Arnold says he still has no indication as to why he’s been dismissed from the university and remains confident that when all the cards are laid out on the table, his hands will be clean of any malicious wrongdoing.
“When non-leaders are put in leadership position, stuff like this happens. I’m not a perfect person. My assistants aren’t perfect people. But give us a chance to say what’s being said about us and see where the truth really lies,” he said. “And the NCAA does give you that opportunity. I’m not bashing the NCAA. They’re doing their job. We made a mistake and we submitted it and told them we made a mistake. I have no problem with the NCAA and how this has been handled by the NCAA. In fact, I think they’re doing a good job.”
“You’ve always said you’re not guilty of anything. You run a clean program. Do you feel like anything will come out that will say that you could be let go with cause?” KHON2 asked.
“That’s a fair question and I don’t. I never have. I’ve loved it here,” Arnold responded. “We built something special. We did it the right way. If there were mistakes that were made, I’m sorry. I would have liked to have been part of the process of creating the solution. That’s all I ask. I think at the University of Hawaii, we’re great at finding the problem. We suck at finding the solution.”
There were moments when Arnold got emotional and spoke with tears in his eyes, especially when the conversation turned to his players.
“I think we worked really hard to get to this point to where I had a special group of guys and that’s what’s killing them,” Arnold said. “They’re feeling like this has been taken out from under them and they’re continued to be told it’s for your good. And I don’t buy that, and neither do the guys. They don’t believe that when they’re told, ‘This was done for you.’ They don’t believe that.”
Arnold said he was shocked to learn that forward Issac Fotu is currently ineligible to play in the upcoming season due to a NCAA investigation.
Sources tell KHON2 that Fotu was under investigation for receiving improper benefits for a student-athlete.
“It kills me, and I haven’t even been able to reach out and help him. I haven’t even been able to ask him what’s the issue,” Arnold said. “I was told the day before I was let go, I was pulled in and told that they were going to make him ineligible and I asked, what is he being alleged of? What is he doing? How can we help? What can we do? And they wouldn’t tell me.
“I can tell you I have nothing, zero to do with any of this and they never asked me any questions regarding any specific thing with Isaac Fotu along any lines that I know of,” Arnold added. “So that’s very troubling when a great kid, not a good kid, a great kid is told you can’t play, we’re not telling you why you can’t play.”
UH will pay Arnold $344,000 for the final year of his contract, which was set to expire next June.
While he is no longer coaching, Arnold will remain officially employed at the university until Jan. 26.
As for the team, it is scheduled to play an exhibition game against Hawaii Pacific University on Nov. 6 and faces the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic on Nov. 14.