HONOLULU — Hawaii has fired its men’s basketball coach a little more than two weeks before its first regular-season game.
The university announced Tuesday that it fired coach Gib Arnold, who had been with the program for four years in his first Division I head coaching job, and assistant Brandyn Akana.
Arnold compiled a record of 72-55 over four years, including 20-11 last year.
The school has been under investigation since March by the NCAA. The university earlier this year self-reported a Jan. 9 incident in which “a men’s basketball coach submitted an altered document that was essential for admissions purposes,” according to information obtained by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
School officials did not list reasons for the dismissals of Arnold and Akana.
“These painful but critical steps are being taken in an effort to strengthen our athletics program and to do right by our student athletes and students in general,” Athletic Director Ben Jay said in a statement. “We appreciate the work of Gib and Brandyn and wish them both the best in the future.”
Arnold issued a statement that said he was being fired “without cause,” meaning the university did not have to prove a reason.
“It pains me that they are taking my team and career away based on unknown allegations from unknown sources that have not been proven and that I have never been able to defend,” he said.
Arnold will be paid the rest of his $344,000 annual salary.
Associate head coach Benjy Taylor, who with Akana joined Arnold in his first season, was named interim head coach. Taylor led the team in a practice Tuesday.
“We needed to get on the floor and be with each other,” Taylor said. “(The players) are very, very upset right now. They just lost a family member, a patriarch. ... I thought they needed to get on the floor and sweat a little bit and just try to move forward somehow.”
Taylor, a former head coach at Chicago State, said he does not plan drastic changes to the team’s system. Hawaii opens its season on Nov. 14.
Lofton dismissed from team: In Minneapolis, junior guard Zach Lofton was dismissed from the Minnesota basketball program.
Coach Richard Pitino said Wednesday that Lofton was dismissed for “failing to meet the expectations and obligations of the team.” The dismissal is effective immediately.
Pitino calls the decision difficult but says it was in the team’s best interest “to move forward at this time.”
Lofton was a transfer from Illinois State. The 6-foot-4 guard from St. Paul would have been required to sit out the season.
Lofton will be able to remain at Minnesota under scholarship for the rest of the 2014-15 school year.
Swofford Denies academic fraud while at UNC: In Charlotte, North Carolina, Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford said Wednesday there were no red flags indicating academic fraud was being missed or ignored at North Carolina while he was the school’s athletic director.
Swofford made the comments at the league’s basketball media day, a week after an outside investigation detailed wide-ranging fraud in a UNC academic department popular with athletes. The report outlined specifics of the ongoing scandal, including sham courses with artificially high grades in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department from 1993 to 2011.
Swofford was UNC’s AD until becoming ACC commissioner in 1997.
“It never came up while I was there as an issue from any source,” Swofford said. “If it had, obviously, we would have addressed that with the appropriate people. But it never arose as any issue at all.”
Swofford wouldn’t discuss his personal reaction to the findings in the report from former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein.
Later Wednesday, Tar Heels Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams said he has no plans to retire amid the scandal affecting athletes across a wide range of the school’s 28-sport varsity program.
When asked why, Williams replied: “I’d like to be part of the solution.”
Williams addressed some of the issues in Wainstein’s report after his team’s exhibition game Friday night and reiterated he did nothing improper when he spoke with reporters Wednesday.
The NCAA has reopened its probe into academic misconduct in Chapel Hill, but Williams wouldn’t speculate on possible sanctions such as vacated wins or championships. The school is also facing renewed questions from its accreditation agency.
“I have no idea what’s going to happen,” he said. “I have no timetable. I know what I can do, and what I can do is I can go to practice tomorrow and try to coach like crazy and try to give my kids guidance and let my kids know that I care about them. That’s what I can do.”
LONG BEACH STATE
Monson, 49ers agree to contract extension: In Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State basketball coach Dan Monson has agreed to a five-year contract extension through the 2018-19 season.
The school announced deal Wednesday.
Monson led the Long Beach State to a 15-17 record last season and is 119-108 in seven seasons with the 49ers, leaving him four victories short of Jerry Tarkanian’s school record of 123 victories. Monson’s team have won three Big West titles and played in the 2012 NCAA tournament.
Monson has a career record of 289-231 in 17 seasons at Gonzaga, Minnesota and Long Beach State.
The 49ers will open the season Nov. 14 at BYU.
Guard Davis out 8 to 10 weeks with foot injury: In Muncie, Indiana, Ball state guard Jeremiah Davis will miss eight to 10 weeks after undergoing surgery on his right foot, coach James Whitford said Wednesday.
Davis, a junior, was injured in practice Tuesday. The Cardinals open the season Nov. 14 at Utah.
Davis, a native of Muncie where Ball State is located, decided to transfer from the University of Cincinnati after his family was displaced last year by a house fire last year. After moving back in December, he sat out the second half of last season. The NCAA granted him a waiver so he could compete immediately.
Davis averaged 2.5 points and 0.9 rebounds as a freshman with the Bearcats, but a wrist injury limited him to four games as a sophomore and he played in only six games last season.
MOUNT ST. JOSEPH WOMEN
Two Bengals accept Hill’s layup challenge: In Cincinnati, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and left tackle Andrew Whitworth accepted Lauren Hill’s challenge to make a dizzy layup and help raise money for research into her type of brain cancer.
The freshman at Division III Mount St. Joseph was diagnosed a year ago and has only months to live. The NCAA has allowed the school to move up its opening game to Sunday because of her condition.
Although she’s right-handed, Hill has to shoot with her left hand because the tumor has affected her coordination. Also, she can’t move her head side-to-side because it makes her dizzy.
The Bengals players spun five times and made a layup with their non-dominant hand on Tuesday at Paul Brown Stadium. Participants can donate $10 to cancer research.