A new position offered to former University of Hawaii Athletics Director Jim Donovan came about only after UH President MRC Greenwood and UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple were threatened with a lawsuit by Donovan's attorney.
According to a July 16 letter released by the university Wednesday, attorney David Simons wrote that Greenwood and Apple "defamed" Donovan and "ruined his reputation" when they announced his suspension as AD on July 11.
The letter continues, saying Donovan was made a scapegoat by Greenwood and Apple because of the now infamous Stevie Wonder concert fiasco, in which the university wired $200,000 to a company in Florida with no connection to the superstar. The concert was supposed to have raised funds for athletics.
"Because this matter was embarrassing to both of you; you panicked and acted peremptorily to suspend Jim in order to deflect criticism from yourselves, and people who reported to you," Simons wrote. "By suspending Jim, you falsely made it appear that it was all his fault."
On August 11, Greenwood and Apple signed an agreement with Donovan that guarantees him a position under Apple's office at $211,200 per year for the next three years, on the condition Donovan agrees not to sue the university. Donovan's new contract is scheduled to begin March 24, 2013. Until then, he's being paid $200,640, or $30,000 less than he earned as AD.
Donovan's attorney said his client was in Dallas when the money was wired to Florida, and Donovan instructed that no money be transferred until the Stevie Wonder contract was cleared and approved by the university's general counsel. Simons said the final decision to release funds for the concert was made by the university's fiscal office.
A fact-finders report released Wednesday by the university and reviewed by the Board of Regents essentially cleared Donovan of any wrongdoing.
State lawmakers who continue to support Donovan and want him reinstated as athletics director, believe Greenwood and Apple are directly to blame for Donovan's threat of a lawsuit.
"That's because of poor handling on the part of UH administration, and in particular, the president and chancellor," said Rep. Mark Takai, who also serves as president of the UH Letterwinners Club. "They're the ones that came forward and basically chastised, ridiculed and condemned Jim Donovan."
"You have to look at that situation in my mind and say, 'Well, should it just stop at him, or should it go higher up the chain," added Rep. James Tokioka.