By Rodney S. Yap
On the eve of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents closed-door executive session, UH President M.R.C. Greenwood claimed Jim Donovan did not lose his athletics director post because of his involvement in the botched Stevie Wonder concert he initiated.
Greenwood made the statement on Tuesday in an email sent to UH students, faculty and staff.
Greenwood wrote: “Plans for the process and timetable for this action (removing Donovan) would have commenced regardless of the concert cancellation and ensuing investigation. The discussions regarding this personnel decision were in the early stages and not yet public, but the attention of campus leadership had already turned to the recruitment process.”
Her remarks ended five weeks of public silence on the subject and confirmed some public speculation that she and the regents did not want Donovan to continue as athletic director past his contract, which expires March 23, and was already in the process of re-assigning him.
The 15-member Board of Regents is scheduled to review the “reassignment of James Donovan and return from leave with pay of Richard Sheriff” today at 9 a.m. at Windward Community College. In addition, it is scheduled to discuss “the status of (the) investigation of (the) Stevie Wonder concert.”
If anything, Greenwood said it was coincidental that the new UH Manoa leadership determined that four and a half years into Donovan’s five-year contract, it was time to search for a new director of athletics.
In the email, Greenwood said the two events — Donovan’s reassignment and the investigation into the cancelled Stevie Wonder concert — are separate issues.
Donovan’s reassignment from athletics was “not a result of nor derived from the investigation over the concert, and the two events should not be have become so connected in the way that they have.”
Last week, UH announced Donovan would be reassigned to an as-yet-unnamed position, and retained with a $200,000 three-year contract when his AD contract of $240,000 expires March 23.
Prior to her departure, former UH Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw recommended Donovan’s contract be renewed.
At an Aug. 13 news conference, current Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple described Donovan’s job performance as “fantastic” and praised his “incredible talents.”
The school has yet to post the job opening for new AD.
Meanwhile, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported today that associate athletic director Carl Clapp, the No. 2 administrator in the UH athletic department, will interview for the Montana AD job Monday in Missoula.
A spokesman for Montana said Clapp is one of four finalists for the position, and the school hopes to announce its choice soon after Labor Day.
Apple said UH’s own internal investigation cleared Donovan of wrongdoing.
The results of the investigation was also expected to be presented to the Board of Regents this morning. In order for the investigation to proceed freely and fully, employees closely connected with the planned concert were removed from the workplace and placed on paid leave. Because we felt it unfair to make statements before facts were available, we have declined to engage in the widespread speculation about blame and accountability.”
Because of attorney-client privilege, exactly how much of the report will be shared with the public remains a key question.
Several UH officials besides Donovan approved parts of the arrangements for the concert, including UH lawyers, who approved the concert contract. The schools chief financial officer, Howard Todo, approved wiring $200,000 in UH funds to a Miami agent, money the university has been unable to track.