Hawaii expected to name Arnold new men's basketball coach
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
Punahou School graduate Gib Arnold is expected to be introduced as the University of Hawai'i's new head men's basketball coach as soon as this afternoon.
The 40-year-old Arnold would take over the state's only NCAA Division I men's program 23 years after his father, Frank Arnold, stepped down as the 'Bows' head coach.
Gib Arnold, who had been an assistant at Southern California until this month, was a finalist for the position along with Saint Mary's associate head coach Kyle Smith, whose team plays Villanova today in the NCAA South Regional in Providence, R.I.
The announcement was expected to be timed so that it came after the Saint Mary's game today. Also to allow Arnold to catch a flight from Los Angeles in time to appear at a Mānoa press conference, according to people familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak for the school.
UH has yet to announce the hiring or call a press conference.
Athletic director Jim Donovan declined comment and did not return numerous calls left for him. Arnold, who said he had no word yesterday afternoon, did not return calls in the evening.
There was a flurry of activity on the Mānoa campus yesterday afternoon with Donovan touching bases with key department, campus and UH system figures, according to people present.
Throughout the process Donovan has pledged to "move as expeditiously as possible" and today marks one week since his "advisory" committee began interviewing candidates to replace Bob Nash, who was terminated on March 8 with one year remaining on an amended four-year contract.
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.
People familiar with developments said Donovan talked to both Arnold and Smith again yesterday.
Arnold was said to be in the Los Angeles area yesterday afternoon, and told people, "My wife is brilliantly channeling my nervous energy into cleaning the garage. If the decision does not come down soon I might begin cleaning the floorboards."
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, and compiled an 11-45 record in two seasons (1985-87).
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.
Gib Arnold spent five seasons at USC before being let go this month by head coach Kevin O'Neill, who took over the Trojans last spring. O'Neill reportedly said Arnold and another assistant coach were released from his USC staff because he wanted "to move in a different direction."
Before his stint at USC, Arnold 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.
His collegiate basketball career as a player included stints at Arizona State, Dixie State and UC San Diego.