The University of Hawaii is standing by volleyball coach Charlie Wade as it reviews allegations of misconduct against him.
The allegations, which involve a former female player approximately 30 years ago, surfaced a week before the top-ranked Rainbow Warriors compete in the NCAA tournament. The player making the accusation was not a member of the University of Hawaii women’s volleyball team.
According to a story published Wednesday in the Orange County (Calif.) Register, Wade has been put on interim measure-suspension by the U.S. Center for SafeSport and USA Volleyball pending a SafeSport investigation. It does not prevent Wade from coaching in an NCAA semifinal matchup May 2.
“It’s being reviewed at the highest levels of the university, and we’re also waiting for the results of the investigation by SafeSport to see what more is there,” UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said at a press conference at the Manoa campus Thursday afternoon.
The allegation involving Wade, 55, did not mention when the incident occurred, but according to the article, which used documents from SafeSport and USAV, it involved someone who played for him at the club level. Wade founded Magnum Volleyball Club in Anaheim, Calif., in 1986 and ran it until 1995, when he joined Dave Shoji’s Rainbow Wahine staff at Hawaii and served as an assistant and associate head coach through 2005.
Asked what UH might be considering as its options, Meisenzahl replied, “One step at a time. Let’s see what this investigation yields, if anything at all, and take it from there. But right now Charlie Wade is our volleyball coach.”
Orange County Register reporter Scott M. Reid, who wrote the story, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Thursday that he tried to contact Wade and UH athletic director Dave Matlin on Tuesday night before it ran. When the Star-Advertiser contacted UH about this story Thursday, the school released a statement. It read in part: “UH takes any allegations of misconduct seriously. The university is actively reviewing the matter and is awaiting the conclusion of the SafeSport investigation.
“Wade strongly denies that any type of misconduct took place. In his years at UH, as the women’s volleyball assistant coach and as the men’s coach, he has never been accused of this type of misconduct and has always handled himself with the highest level of professionalism.
“Wade cooperated with the SafeSport investigation as soon as he was notified in September 2018. He still has not been interviewed and has not heard from SafeSport since. His attorney formally requested, multiple times and as recently as April 4, that SafeSport provide an update to the investigation. SafeSport has yet to respond.”
Wade’s attorney, Michael Green, said that the woman making these allegations is mentally unstable.
“She apparently had a nervous breakdown, or is on drugs or alcohol,” he said.
The woman, who was married when she began sending Wade emails complaining about her husband, propositioned him well after he left the club team and asked him to return to California, according to Green. But Green said Wade, who is married with children, turned her down.
Wade was her mentor, her volleyball coach, he said.
He said that her teammates from that volleyball team were interviewed during a full investigation, and they all told the investigators she made it up.
Green said that some of the teammates are flying out to watch him coach.
He questions the timing of the reporter who wrote this story, noting that it is occurring “on the eve of the big game,” one of the “biggest times of his life and one of the biggest times for UH sports.”
“They go after him and humiliate his wife and family,” Green said. “How do you recover?”
Green said that they chose not to say anything previously because “we knew the investigations would turn into nothing.”
Wade is “an exemplary coach, an exemplary person.”
SafeSport is a nonprofit organization that grew out of the federal Protecting Young Victims From Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, signed into law in 2018. The law authorizes SafeSport to independently resolve allegations of abuse within U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports. The organization reported that between opening in March 2017 and December 2018, it had received more than 2,127 reports, issued 340 disciplinary actions and designated more than 260 individuals permanently ineligible to participate in affiliated programs.
Since NCAA events do not fall under SafeSport, USA Volleyball or U.S. Olympic Committee authority, a suspended coach is not prohibited by rule from coaching a collegiate team while under investigation by SafeSport. Wade’s case is considered an ongoing investigation where no resolution has been reached.
Meisenzahl also pointed out there have been no such incidents reported in Wade’s time at UH (men’s volleyball head coach since 2010 and women’s volleyball assistant from 1995 to 2005) and that coaches go through annual training at UH’s Title IX office.
“We have processes in place,” he said. “We’ll see what comes out of the investigation before we determine what the best next steps are.”
Meisenzahl acknowledged the timing of the report surfacing was “surprising and unfortunate.”
“Obviously, it’s a cloud, but the UH men’s volleyball team, they’re the No. 1 seed and they’re proceeding into the tournament and hope to come home with the national championship,” he said.
No coaches or players of the men’s volleyball team were made available for interviews at the news conference or elsewhere on campus.
The O.C. Register story also mentioned a separate incident involving Long Beach State assistant Scott Touzinsky, who has since made a “voluntary departure” from LBSU. The 2008 Olympic gold medalist said in a statement released by the athletic department that he did not want to be a distraction “during what is a critical time for the team.”
Long Beach State is seeded No. 2 in the NCAA tournament and is hosting the event. According to USAV’s public suspended membership list on its website, Touzinsky was sanctioned with a “formal warning” on April 15 by SafeSport after being suspended July 19 by USA Volleyball after the latter learned of allegations of sexual misconduct involving an underage female athlete in Canada in either 2013 or 2014.