Ken Niumatalolo, BA in communications ’90, UH Mānoa
Roots: Lāʻie, Hawaiʻi; two-year mission with the Mormon Church
Early job: Selling programs at Rainbows home football games at age 10 or 11, netting 5 cents for each
Family: Wife Barbara, three children (Alexcia is a scholarship women’s lacrosse player for the University of Maryland)
Ken Niumatalolo is believed to be the first Polynesian head coach in NCAA Division IA history and the first Samoan collegiate head coach on any level.
That fact didn’t really register until he got an email from the governor of Hawaiʻi and a phone call from the congressman from American Samoa. “Polynesians are pretty positive people. That is just the way you are brought up,” the Radford High School graduate says from his office overlooking the water in downtown Annapolis, Md. “I am just trying to do what is right for the program.”
As a Navy assistant coach, Niumatalolo proved to be “a consummate professional and unquestioned role model with impeccable loyalty and character,” says Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk.
Niumatalolo helped Navy go to five straight bowl games and lead the nation in rushing for three seasons. His first game as head coach was a Navy 3-point loss to Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl Dec. 20, 2007.
A three-year Rainbow quarterback, Niumatalolo guided UH to its first post-season bowl game in 1989 and served three years as a UH assistant. “The university is pretty much multi-cultural. You deal with people from all over. I think it helped me become a real people person,” he says.
He first joined Navy in 1995, returning after a three-season stint as assistant coach at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas.