UH AD Donovan Placed on Indefinite Paid Leave

July 12, 2012, 2:24 PM HST · Updated July 12, 2:50 PM
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UH athletic director Jim Donovan and Mayor Alan Arakawa at the Rainbow Wahine volleyball exhibition game against Nebraska at War Memorial Gym held earlier this year. File photo by Rodney S. Yap.

By Rodney S. Yap

The bungling of a benefit concert that was promoted as featuring Stevie Wonder may cost University of Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan his job.

On Wednesday, the school placed Donovan and Rich Sheriff, manager of the Stan Sheriff Center, on indefinite paid leave while an investigation into the canceled benefit concert takes place.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tom Apple, the Manoa campus chancellor, said an experienced, outside party would conduct the probe. Meanwhile, UH officials reported the incident to the FBI.

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University Vice President Rockne Freitas will serve as acting athletic director until the investigation is finished.

The university on Tuesday announced it would cancel the concert after learning the event wasn’t authorized by Wonder or his representatives.

The university is trying to get back $200,000 from its athletic funds that it paid to local promoter Bob Peyton as a deposit for the concert.

The Aug. 18 concert at the school’s Stan Sheriff Center was to benefit the university’s cash-strapped athletic department.

Donovan said Tuesday the event was booked by an unauthorized third party without the knowledge or consent of Wonder’s representatives. Wonder’s agent, Creative Artists Agency, told the university that he wouldn’t be available for the concert.

The university is refunding 6,000 tickets already sold. KHON reported Wednesday that 95% have been refunded.

Peyton told KHON-TV that he sent the money to Wonder’s international booking agent in Spain and that Hawaii is often considered an international venue. He said in an email to Hawaii News Now that the cancellation also puts $50,000 of his company’s money in jeopardy.

Wonder’s representatives couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

The star’s representatives “were very sorry to have to inform us of his unavailability,” Donovan said. “We look forward to the possibility of bringing Stevie Wonder out to Hawaii at a future date.”

Those who purchased tickets at the Stan Sheriff box office can get refunds at the box office immediately, and those who bought tickets online or by phone with credit cards will get automatic refunds within seven working days, the university said. Ticket prices ranged from $70 to $250.

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