Eran Ganot hired as Hawaii basketball coach

HONOLULU (AP) Eran Ganot has returned to Hawaii as the Rainbow Warriors' basketball coach.

The university announced the hiring of Ganot, a former Hawaii assistant who was associate head coach at St. Mary's College in California, from a pool of more than 80 candidates at a Thursday morning news conference.

''We were blessed with excellent candidates, but one person clearly rose to the top,'' Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman said in introducing Ganot. ''He possesses all the qualities we are looking for in our next basketball coach.''

Bley-Vroman added that Ganot ''has an unwavering dedication to academics and to NCAA compliance.''

Ganot is the 21st head coach at Hawaii, and the second-youngest at the age of 33.

''It's not often you can fulfill your dream, and today I get to fulfill my dream''' Ganot said. ''I'm humbled and honored to stand before you as the head coach of the University of Hawaii for men's basketball.''

He's familiar with the university, serving with the Rainbow Warriors' program in various roles from director of basketball operations to fulltime assistant from 2006 to 2010.

He inherits a troubled program. The former coach, Gib Arnold, was fired in late October, just weeks before the season was set to start, amid NCAA allegations.

The collegiate sports governing body alleges that Arnold acted unethically and knowingly influenced others to provide false or misleading information regarding violations during his tenure. Arnold has said he plans to fight the allegations and is seeking $1.4 million from the university.

The school has been under investigation since March 2014 by the NCAA. The university self-reported a Jan. 9, 2014, 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.

In response the NCAA investigations, Ganot said the university's compliance department ''has done a great job tackling what they could do and making the best of a tough situation.''

''I'm ready for the challenge that could come. I'm not going to run from it, we're not going to run from it,'' he said. ''We'll approach it the right way and make sure we don't have any issues going forward ... we're not going to go looking for excuses. We just got to be very prepared.''

Associate head coach Benjy Taylor, who joined Arnold in his first season at Hawaii, stepped in after the firing and led the Rainbows to a 22-13 season, and took the team to the finals of the Big West tournament.

Chancellor Bley-Vroman thanked Taylor and this year's basketball team for their hard work and success. He said the team did something improbable. ''We had a difficult beginning, and people pulled together,'' he said. ''We pulled off a really great season.''

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