June Jones helped guide the University of Hawaii football team to its highest highs of modern times. He will now occupy a space in the pantheon of program greats.

Jones, the winningest UH football coach in the modern era of the sport, will head up the 2024 induction class of the UH Sports Circle of Honor, it was announced on Thursday.

What You Need To Know

  • Former Hawaii football coach June Jones will head up the 2024 UH Sports Circle of Honor induction class, it was announced on Thursday

  • Jones is the program's winningest coach in the modern era at 76 victories and led UH to an undefeated 2007 regular season and appearance in the Sugar Bowl

  • UH and Jones had clashed over the hiring process for the head football job in 2022 that ultimately went to Jones' former player, Timmy Chang

  • The 2010 Hawaii softball team that made it to the Women's College World Series is also being inducted in the class

He was surprised by a group of friends at Murphy’s Bar and Grill on Thursday afternoon. His lifelong friend, Artie Wilson, made the announcement.

“I appreciate it very much,” Jones said in a video posted to social media. “I think my time in Hawaii was special. All the stuff that we were able to do, it’s … an honor and I appreciate it every much.”

The 2007 UH football team as a whole was previously inducted into the Circle of Honor in 2018. Its standout quarterback Colt Brennan was inducted in 2021.

Jones compiled 76 wins over his nine years in Manoa, including a 9-4 season when he took over in 1999 that at the time was the biggest turnaround from season to season in FBS history.

“It’s disappointing that he wasn’t in sooner,” Wilson, a Spectrum Sports basketball analyst, told Spectrum News. “He’s clearly the winningest coach, the most successful coach, and he brought national attention to Hawaii when there hadn’t been (such) attention to the program.”

Jones left UH for SMU following the unbeaten 2007 regular season plus Sugar Bowl appearance. He was most recently the offensive coordinator for the Seattle Sea Dragons of the XFL in 2023 before the franchise folded.

Jones was a candidate to return as UH football coach in January 2022, but the position ultimately went to former quarterback Timmy Chang to cap a search led by then-athletic director David Matlin. The process included a public spat between UH and Jones.

First-year UH Athletic Director Craig Angelos lauded Jones Thursday.

“You have a rich legacy here and we appreciate everything you’ve done here, and it’s time to invite you into that Circle of Honor,” Angelos said.

The 2010 UH softball team that reached the Women’s College World Series is also to be inducted, it was announced at UH softball’s 4-1 win over Tennessee State on Thursday night.

More inductees will be announced in the coming days, according to UH.

Brian McInnis covers the state's sports scene for Spectrum News Hawaii. He can be reached at brian.mcinnis@charter.com.