An independent assessment of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Athletics Department relating to student-athlete welfare, communications and concerns has been completed and is on the UH Board of Regents (BOR) March 23 meeting agenda for discussion and possible action. The report was commissioned by the BOR in August 2022.
College Sports Solutions (CSS), a Georgia-based consulting firm that specializes in collegiate athletics, was hired by the BOR to review allegations made regarding climate and behaviors within the UH football program. The allegations were raised during a January 7, 2022 public informational briefing by the Hawaiʻi State Senate Committees on Ways and Means and Higher Education.
CSS interviewed more than two dozen individuals and collected hundreds of pages of documents during its investigation. The report includes a detailed timeline (pages 11 to 14) that starts when the concerns were first raised by a football student-athlete and outlines the escalating response by the university until the Senate briefing.
In response to the questions posed by the BOR (pages 15 to 21), among others, CSS made the following findings:
- There was no criminal behavior; no violations of NCAA, Mountain West Conference or Big West Conference rules and regulations; and BOR policies were not ignored or circumvented. (page 16)
- The response by “University and Athletics Department leadership, including President David Lassner, FAR (Faculty Athletics Representative) Scott Sinnett, Athletic Director David Matlin and his staff, appear to have been both appropriate and timely.” (page 9)
- The specific issues were “dealt with appropriately and in a timely fashion throughout the season by university and athletics department personnel.” (page 9)
- Appropriate policies and procedures are in place “to hear, address and react to student-athlete complaints and issues.” (page 9)
- The athletics department can, “improve its communication of those policies and procedures and its encouragement of student-athletes to voice thoughts and concerns about their sports and their overall well-being and welfare—athletically, academically, medically and personally.” (page 9)
As requested by the BOR, the report also provided a list of recommendations (pages 23 to 25). These include improvement of communication with student-athletes, improved mental-health support, establishing a department-wide set of behavioral standards for all coaches, and continuing to work diligently to find a permanent solution to the closure of Aloha Stadium. The athletics department has submitted an initial response to the BOR regarding plans to embrace the recommendations.
Allegations related to UH basketball programs
CSS was also asked by the BOR to look into allegations made at the January 7 senate briefing on the treatment of student-athletes in the men’s and women’s basketball programs regarding incidents from prior years. The report’s findings stated that responses to concerns were timely and substantive, and that all appropriate processes were followed (pages 19 to 21).
In completing its work CSS noted the “substantive and comprehensive nature of the records that were kept relative to matters reviewed in this inquiry,” and that the university “accommodated all requests, and allowed us access to any and all documents and personnel that we requested.”
Redactions have been made in the publicly-released 570-page report, largely to the attachments, in order to protect the privacy interests of student-athletes. The materials posted for this BOR agenda item also include a memo from BOR Chair Randy Moore and BOR Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics Chair William Haning summarizing the history of the inquiry and the findings and recommendations in the report.