Move to remove UH athletic director still being questioned

Second Senate accountability committee next week

 UPDATED 7:28 AM HST Sep 26, 2012
Jim Donovan
HONOLULU -

The details are still seeping out after Monday’s marathon senate hearing on the University of Hawaii's botched Stevie Wonder fundraising concert.

A big chunk of Monday night’s meeting was over how, why, and when UH leadership decided to dump Jim Donovan as Athletic Director.

On Tuesday, UH administrators took another step away from a move Donovan says he'd hoped would not happen.

“I feel like I deserve more than that because of what I accomplished. I'm pretty disappointed to be honest with you,” said Donovan.

For two hours Monday night, former UH Athletic Director Jim Donovan chronicled what he could recall about the now infamous Stevie Wonder fundraising concert debacle.  He talked about why he saw the red flags too late, why he felt there was enough blame to spread around, and why he felt he didn't deserve to lose his job.

“It's hard when you have conflicting instructions above you in the chain of command, 180 degree conflicting instructions, but you do the best you can,” he told the committee.

But the university is pressing on. Late Tuesday afternoon, KITV4 confirmed the search advisory committee tasked to find a new athletic director met Tuesday morning, with plans to spend $90,000 hiring an executive search firm to find a new AD.

A spokesperson for the chancellor's office told KITV, to date, it has received more than 60 applications.

“I did explain to the governor that I didn't think it would work out that way,” said UH President MRC Greenwood.

She told the committee that despite their decision to remove Donovan, pressure from state lawmakers cast doubt on that decision.

“My job's on the line, so I might as well be clear. I was told in the governor's office that the president of the senate and the speaker had come to see him because their constituents were very concerned,” Greenwood said. “And there was a strong preference that we put Mr. Donovan back in the athletic director position.”

“We just wanted an honest response from everybody, and for them not to hide anything from us,” said UH Kaleo sports writer Marc Arakaki. He said he watched most of the hearing, felt Donovan sounded sincere, and didn’t believe he deserved to lose his job. Others had questions and criticism over the cloud that has yet to clear.

“For me as a student, I'm very concerned about the process and the accountability of the administration,” said Richard Mizakawa.

“I guess since he's the athletic director and they need to a find a scapegoat,” said another student.

UH officials say they're soliciting private donations to pay for the search firm and hope to name a new athletic director by early November 2012.

Gov. Abercrombie said in meeting with Greenwood, his quote: "...sole concern was for fairness and even-handedness."

But on Tuesday, less than a day after the first senate accountability meeting, Abercrombie did not mince words. He had this to say: “I think the report makes it clear that the worst that can be said about Rich Sheriff was that he was enthusiastic about it and misjudged the character of the person he was dealing with. As for Jim Donovan, he trusted the people in the fiscal office and the legal council to do the right thing and they didn't do it.”

He added that the legal council for the university is not part of the attorney general’s office, and scolded those involved for not taking responsibility for their actions.

“I guarantee you one other thing, I never would have let someone else take the fall for something I'm responsible for.”

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