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UH leaders made Donovan their 'scapegoat,' his lawyer said

By Ferd Lewis

LAST UPDATED: 01:00 p.m. HST, Aug 23, 2012


Links to UH documents

July 16 letter from Donovan's lawyer

Aug. 11 UH Memo to Jim Donovan

Factfinders' report of Stevie Wonder Concert

Letter of support from legislators


  The attorney for former athletic director Jim Donovan charged that University of Hawaii officials used his client as a "scapegoat ... to deflect criticism from yourselves and people who reported to you."

Donovan was placed on paid indefinite administrative leave July 11 in the wake of the Stevie Wonder concert debacle. In a July 16 letter to UH President M.R.C. Greenwood and UH-Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple, Donovan's attorney David Simons charged that "the truth is, as you know, Mr. Donovan had little to do with the possible loss to the university of $200,000. Because this matter was embarrassing to both of you, you panicked and acted peremptorily to suspend Jim."

The letter, and other documents have been released to the Star-Advertiser under the state's open records law.

Weeks later, the UH and Donovan came to an agreement in which Donovan agreed not to sue the school and its officials in exchange for a new, yet-to-be-titled job. Donovan, whose athletic director salary was $240,000 on a contract that runs until March 23, returned to a reassigned role at UH-Manoa Aug. 12 under a three-year deal worth $211,200.

In his July 16 letter, Simons wrote, "by suspending Jim, you falsely made it appear that it was all his fault. Legally, we call putting someone in a 'false light' which is tortious conduct for which Mr. Donovan will seek compensatory and punitive damages from each of you."

Simons contended, "there was no operational reason, need or justification to publicly suspend Mr. Donovan. The obvious and only reason you publicly suspended him was to deflect criticism toward him and away from both of you and from the people who caused this problem, who are people who report to you, not to Mr. Donovan, including your general cpounsel's office and your fiscal office."

In addition, Simons charges, "you chose to scapegoat Mr. Donovan rather than appropriately investigating first. You breached UH policy. By not investigating first and, instead, publicly labeling Mr. Donovan as the culprit, you have denied him his constitutional right to due process and breached clear and established UH policy."


Letter to UH from Donovan's lawyer

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dalawyer wrote:
Either the executive office or board of regents should be held responsible for this snafu. Greenwood or Apple should have had final say in the contract negotiation. $200,000 would have been wired with the approval of Howard Todo, VP of Finance and Budget. If policies and procedures are lacking, the problem ultimately is at the top of the food chain. Board of Regents, President, and Chancellors, work on operational/procedural policies. Who is the link between the board and the campuses? Isn't it Keith Amemiya, Exec. Administrator and secretary to the Board of Regents, the one who was hired for this responsibility. He's the guru with the legal background! Interesting that his name hasn't come it in the press, who's trying to protect his interest! He aspires to be the next UH AD!
on August 23,2012 | 12:26PM
BTO wrote:
Can I get football tickets for all of my friends?? Got to be sidelines on the 50yd, you know what section....
on August 23,2012 | 12:44PM
EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
I understand that the rank and file financial office staff questioned the foolish transfer of money, but were ordered by the powers that be to keep their mouths shut and wire the money.
on August 23,2012 | 08:14PM
Sunny wrote:
I've lost all confidence in the M.R.C. Greenwood, Tom Apple, and the BOR. Welcome to Hawaii Tom!
on August 23,2012 | 01:56PM
EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
The person who was really at fault is the person who gave Donovan an eight year, $1,833,600.00 sweetheart contract in the first place. While I'm sure that the contract has a"just cause" for discharge cancellation clause, to exercise that clause the UH would have go through a brutal, public "washing dirty laundry in public" circus like we did when Dobell was fired. It's simply not worth all the bad feelings that would occur, even though the administration would be right to fire Donovan. Hopefully, Donovan will get tired of his new glorified chief pencil sharpener job and quit, although he is so inept, and he will get such a huge retirement at the end of those years (remember he has been with the State government at the UH all his working life) that he will do the leech thing and happily sharpen every pencil at the UH for 3 yrs. Such a waste of money.
on August 23,2012 | 08:11PM
k9mom wrote:
Did you read the UH Report? The highest ranking person who was even involved in the planning or payment of the "concert" was Donovan. No one Mauka of Dole Street knew what was going on.
on August 23,2012 | 09:16PM
dlum003 wrote:
Powerful stuff and bedrock for the impeachment proceedings of Greenwood, Apple, and the BOR, regardless of Donovan's eventual seating.
on August 23,2012 | 12:40PM
uhsportsfan wrote:
SA-LAM! Wow! You know what? I think the Board of Regents needs to put Greenwood and Apple on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into their actions, then fire them. Then the governor or the legislature or whoever is over UH needs to fire the Board of Regents (weren't they the ones that hired those two morons in the first place?). Time to clean house and get some real leaders and managers in there. Preferably from Hawaii. Enough of Mainlanders coming in and messing everything up. I want someone in there who loves UH and Hawaii as much as most of us do, and no, UH is not my alma mater.
on August 23,2012 | 01:57PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Good, gas those buggahs!
on August 23,2012 | 02:02PM
false wrote:
this letter captures what the vast majority of people posting in this forum have been saying all along. Donovan is the sacrificial lamb. He's keeping his mouth shut in return for a salary of $20,000 a month for the next three years--at which time he'll qualify for retirement and a nice pension. This is the deal that the UH Board of Regents signed off on rather than reinstate Donovan, who did no wrong, and reprimand M.R.C. for mismanaging this issue--basically becoming invisible--and allowing it to damage the integrity of the school. It's clear that the strategy for all is to hunker down until the storm blows over.
on August 23,2012 | 02:03PM
k9mom wrote:
Of course HIS lawyer's letter is going to state the position that his client was wrongfully accused. But you noticed that one line at the end? How everything written in this letter can not be used against him, in other words he can throw a bunch of non-facts out in the letter and once those facts come to light, no one can complain that he didn't know what he was talking about in the letter. Did you read the report? Donovan was involved, he told his Assistant to sign the contract, Sheriff told him about this great idea he had and Donovan told him to run with it. Donovan's subordinates did not supervise Sheriff and Sheriff was the one that insisted that the fiscal office wire the money without the cancellation insurance. So how exactly was Donovan wrongfully scapegoated when it was his subordinates that created this mess by insisting that regulations NOT be followed?
on August 23,2012 | 09:30PM
LadyNinja wrote:
Lot of stuff going on at UH. I have lost all respect for the institution because of this issue. Jim Donovan is a really great, soft spoken person and I like his demeanor. I have never seen him raise his voice in public, this is a great example of one that should head our athletic division. Greenwood is a joke and Apple is a bigger joke. What role does our Hawaiian politics play in this horrific "oversight"? I think Greenwood and Apple should resign their positions immediately because they don't seem to be competent in heading our educational institution. Moreover, it is apparent that both of these folks and the Board of Regents should take a course and pass public scrutiny in ethics!! Maybe this is why UH suffers from their inability to offer quality education as well attract great athletic players. Get off Greenwood and resign, ditto Apple. You both are not fit to run this instituion and there should be an immediate change of the Board of Regents. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU!! for the sellout.
on August 23,2012 | 02:11PM
gobows wrote:
Who's wagging Whom Now?
on August 23,2012 | 02:52PM
EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
Just because Donovan is a nice guy does not mean that he knows what he is doing. To the contrary, the reason he survived all these years despite being so incompetent is that he is that nice guy that no one wanted to fire.
on August 23,2012 | 08:18PM
danji wrote:
on August 23,2012 | 03:38PM
Wonderful_World wrote:
So...who gave the green light to sign the contract & wire the money? Casper the ghost? It gets worst every day.
on August 23,2012 | 03:51PM
GAC wrote:
its the good oh boy network again working in hawaii. you scratch mines and i'll scratch yours. what else is new. like anything else fire the gang and start fresh. shame of these people no one wants to be held accountable for anything. this is what we are teaching our young and up coming future leaders. $200,000. for what . i know hundreds of people would love to take this AD job for less. how much is greenwood makeing too much thats what. shame on all you money hungry lazy good for nothing low life. lets get someone accountable and get this UNIVERSITY back in shape.
on August 23,2012 | 08:42PM
k9mom wrote:
How the hell can his attorney say that Donovan was unfairly scapegoated when he was the one that was the highest ranking authority approving the concert and told his Assistant AD to sign off on the wire transfer?
on August 23,2012 | 09:15PM
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