Arnold 'thrilled, humbled' to take over UH men's basketball program
Saying "I am excited about this new challenge ahead," Gib Arnold today was named the new University of Hawai‘I men's basketball coach.
Arnold, 40, flew in earlier in the day from Los Angeles to take over a job once held by his father, Frank, 23 years earlier and was introduced at a press conference at the Stan Sheriff Center this afternoon.
"It's not every day that a dream can come true, and for me and my family this is truly one of these days," Arnold said.
"My entire life I wanted to be a head basketball coach at the Division I level.
"I’m thrilled, I'm excited, I'm humbled and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be the next head basketball coach at the University of Hawai‘i."
Arnold, a Punahou School graduate, was one of seven candidates who received interviews with UH athletic director Jim Donovan and his advisory committee since March 13.
Arnold and Saint Mary's associate head coach Kyle Smith were believed to be the two finalists for the Hawai‘i position, which became vacant when Bob Nash was terminated on March 8. St. Mary's is still playing in the NCAA Tournament after upsetting No. 2 seed Villanova today.
"As I said when we started this search that we were going to be thorough, but we're going to be quick," Donovan said.
Donovan said he wanted to make certain a coach would be in place so there would be "enough time to put a good enough recruiting session together" before the April 14 signing day.
Arnold was an assistant coach at USC for the past five seasons. He and another assistant coach were released by USC head coach Kevin O'Neill this month. O'Neill reportedly said he wanted "to move in a different direction."
Arnold's father coached UH from 1985-87 and compiled an 11-45 record in two seasons.
"This particular job has a special meaning to me," Arnold said.
“I love my father. I'm proud of who he is. I'm proud to be his son. He’s a great man, a great father, a great coach...but the Arnold name here — through the basketball people here in Hawaii — was a tough time and a tough era.
“As a son I got the opportunity to change that ... to build a program that the people of Hawaii can be proud of.”
Arnold said his experience living in Hawai‘i was different than his father's.
"(I have) great love for the Islands. ... I embraced the Islands," Arnold said.
When asked about his father's reaction to his being named the new UH coach, Gib Arnold said, "He cried. He was excited and he was proud, It was a neat conversation."
"I’m well aware what this team and what this university means to Hawai‘i," Arnold said. "I'm aware of the great support and loyalty that the people have shown throughout the years for University of Hawai‘i basketball. I want to embrace those fans and let them know that while this is a new coach, this is still the University of Hawai‘i."
Arnold said he would like to tap into the coaches of the past — Riley Wallace and Nash for counsel.
Arnold said he's "well aware of the coaches who coached before me — especially Riley Wallace and Bob Nash. Those two men dedicated over 50 years of their lives to this program and I hope they will allow me to stay in touch with them and seek advice. And to let them know we still want them to be part of this program."
Arnold also was head coach at the College of Southern Idaho, and has been an assistant at Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Vanderbilt, Utah Valley State College and Provo High School.
He was 57-14 as a head coach at the College of Southern Idaho. CSI was 33-3 in 2005 and finished third in the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament.
His collegiate basketball career as a player included stints at Arizona State, Dixie State and UC San Diego.
Arnold said he wouldn't recruit players for the sake of recruiting players.
He said he wants players who can play and compete at this level, to be competitive with the top teams in the Western Athletic Conference.
"If we don't find those guys, we're going to hold those scholarships," Arnold said. "You build from two years out, not two weeks out."
He also added that he would "look under every rock, in every country and every city" for players.
"The thing I'm most grateful for is to build something special," Arnold said. "(I'm) confident together we can build this program up."
Terms of the new agreement have yet to be released, but it was not known whether Arnold would be paid as much as Nash, who earned $240,000 per year.
Nash finished with a 34-56 record in three seasons as head coach of the 'Bows, including 10-20 this season. Hawai'i finished in last place in the Western Athletic Conference and did not qualify for the WAC Tournament.
Nash was terminated in what Donovan described as "a business decision." In addition to the three losing seasons, attendance at the Stan Sheriff Center declined during Nash's tenure.
A national search to find Nash's replacement started last week, and seven known candidates interviewed with Donovan and his advisory committee.
Smith flew into Honolulu for a March 13 interview, the first of the seven candidates to go before the committee, and was followed two days later by Arnold and Chaminade head coach Matt Mahar.
Donovan and the committee interviewed four more candidates in Los Angeles Tuesday and Wednesday, and returned to Honolulu on Thursday where they reviewed 18 more applications.
Arnold would be the 19th head coach in the history of the UH men's basketball program. His father, Frank, was the 16th coach in UH history.
While his father was the head coach at UH, Gib Arnold was a standout high school player at Punahou. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year for Hawai'i as a senior in 1987.
"Jim (Donovan) and I share a vision of this team and this program," Arnold said.
Donovan said Arnold "received numerous support across the country." One of the best, Donovan said, came from former ‘Iolani coach Mark Mugiishi, who had "some positive things to say about him."