Todd Graham has nabbed an experienced coach to his new Hawai’i staff, as the Rainbow Warriors have announced Victor Santa Cruz as the program’s defensive coordinator.

Santa Cruz arrives in Honolulu after spending the past 14 seasons as the head coach at Azusa Pacific, a Division II school in Azusa, Calif. He went 84-69, leading the Cougars to four Great Northwest Athletic Conference titles and two trips to the Division II playoffs, most recently in 2018.

Including his five years as an assistant, Santa Cruz spent the past 19 seasons at Azusa Pacific.

“The entire Azusa Pacific community has been incredibly blessed to have Victor and his family here the past 19 seasons,” said Azusa Pacific athletic director Gary Pine. “He has been an outstanding leader, mentor, and coach for the Cougars. Victor has made such an impact on hundreds of young men who have been a part of this program, both on and off the field. We could not be more excited for the new opportunity that he and his family have before them, but we will greatly miss them.”

Santa Cruz is a former Hawai’i linebacker, playing for the Rainbow Warriors from 1990-94.

“Coach Victor Santa Cruz is one of the most respected men I know in college coaching,” Graham said. “The wealth of knowledge and integrity he brings to our program as a leader will have a huge impact. Fired up to welcome him to our Hawai’i football family.”

He coached in the California high school ranks before joining the Azusa Pacific program in 2001.

Santa Cruz remained connected to his alma mater in recent years while at Azusa Pacific by hosting the Rainbow Warriors’ pro days on the APU campus. Now, he’s back at his alma mater on a full-time basis.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.