After rumors swirled about the future of University of Hawaii offensive line coach Chris Naeole’s Thursday, the five-year veteran coach resigned Friday afternoon citing philosophical differences in discipline.
The 12-year NFL veteran with the Saints and Jaguars was one of only two holdovers from Norm Chow’s staff.
Naeole released this statement through his lawyer Richard Wurdeman Friday afternoon:
I’d like to thank the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the people of our state, for not only allowing me to serve, but also in supporting me as a member of the Rainbow Warriors coaching staff over the last four and one-half years.
In my heart, I believe I served the program and student-athletes to the best of my ability, and with the same work ethic, desire, and passion to excel that pushed me at all levels of my playing career.
However, due to certain philosophical differences with the handling of disciplinary matters in the program, I’ve offered my resignation as the offensive line coach. I have always believed in the integrity and principles of what our community and the University stands for and those same beliefs are what I have always tried to instill in my players.
I have expressed my thoughts with the coaching staff and the Athletic Department, and I know the same holds true with many of the other dedicated coaches throughout the entire University of Hawaii athletic ohana.
I will miss the fans, the support staff, and the faculty who have been so supportive of the program, as well as the young men I’ve had the privilege and honor of coaching, teaching, and mentoring at the University of Hawaii.
I extend my Aloha and well wishes to a great University, and to all of the people of Hawaii.
Disciplinary issues have plagued the Rainbow Warriors early in the season.
Defensive lineman Viane Moala and Samuela Akoteu missed the Wyoming game with suspensions. Defensive end Teva Eldridge was suspended for Wyoming and Colorado State, but is expected to return this week. Also suspended against the Rams were tight end Tui Unga, and wide receivers Kalakaua Timoteo and Davine Tullis.
All six players missed action due to violating team rules or student conduct violations.
University of Hawaii spokesman Dan Meisenzahl released a statement Friday clarifying the chain of command in such violations:
“We cannot discuss any specific cases due to federal law that protects the privacy of students, but itʻs important that everyone understands that the university has processes in place. When there is a situation that is more than violation of team rules, it is referred to the appropriate unit, either the Office of Judicial Affairs, responsible for upholding the student conduct code, or the Office of Title IX. After a full investigation, the appropriate office determines the disciplinary action, which can range from no further action to expulsion.”
Head coach Nick Rolovich responded to Naeole’s resignation Friday afternoon:
“I want to thank Chris for his hard work and dedication to our football program. He was critical in holding this program together in the transition from Coach Chow to myself. We wish him well in his future, and we will meet this challenge head on, because that is the Warrior way.”
Athletic Director David Matlin also praised Naeole for his work in the program in the statement:
“Chris will be missed and he will always be a member of our Rainbow Warrior ohana.”
Saint Louis graduate and former six-time NFL Pro Bowler Olin Kreutz chimed in on Naeole’s resignation via Twitter.
Naeole missed the flight Thursday to Nevada for Hawaii’s showdown with the Wolfpack in Reno Saturday, prompting questions about his future while he and Rolovich remained quiet.
Rainbow Warrior graduate assistant John Estes and offensive coordinator Brian Smith will handle the majority of Naeole’s duties.
Kickoff between Hawaii and Nevada Saturday is scheduled for 4:30 pm HST. The game will be broadcast by CBS Sports Network.