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Donovan tells panel he was not involved with wiring $200,000

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 08:07 p.m. HST, Sep 24, 2012

Former University of Hawaii Athletic Director Jim Donovan blamed “a failure of management” for the Stevie Wonder debacle that led to today’s hearing by a state Senate panel.

Donovan said he was not aware that the university had wired $200,000 to an out-of-state bank account to secure the concert because he was out of town at an athletic director’s conference.

"The fact that we wired the money to a company that we didn’t have a contract with ... just blows my mind," he said.

Donovan told the state Senate Special Committee on Accountability that the university failed in three areas: disbursing, legal counsel and athletics.

The former athletic director faced the panel for more than an hour after UH President M.R.C. Greenwood underwent a two-hour grilling over the ill-fated concert and its aftermath.

In July, Donovan was placed on paid leave while an outside law firm investigated the loss of the $200,000.

In August, Donovan was cleared of any wrongdoing in the debacle but was re-assigned to a new marketing role with no title in the UH-Manoa chancellor's office in a three-year deal that pays him more than $200,000 annually.

He told the Senate panel today that his new title is director of external affairs and community relations.

Donovan gave his side of story regarding the lost $200,000 that was intended to secure Wonder for an August concert to benefit UH athletics.

He said the UH fiscal office missed a deadline to cut a check, so a decision was made to wire the money. Wiring the money, Donovan said, would have raised a red flag for him.

He described a wire transfer as similar to “handing a briefcase full of cash” to someone. Donovan also noted that if the bank account was really an escrow account, the university would have had to give its approval before any money was removed from the account. That did not happen.

“I wasn’t aware of it (the wire transfer). I wasn’t brought into the loop,” he said.

Donovan said he was also unaware that there was no contract when the money was wired. He said there was no communication between the Office of the General Counsel and fiscal office.

Donovan said that former Board of Regents Chairman Howard Karr spoke to him about UH coaches and that there was "a lot of (regents) involvement in Coach McMackin's situation."

Donovan said he was told  by the BOR to offer a reduced buyout for football coach Greg McMackin to forego the fifth and final year of his contract,  and that if McMackin did not accept it McMackin would be investigated by the university. McMackin left UH in December, 2011, with $600,000 instead of the $1.1 million his contract guaranteed for the 2012 season.



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droid wrote:
It seems like under Donovan’s scenario, it was all the fiscal office’s fault. They are not allowed to wire money to an escrow account without university (i.e. general counsel) approval, and that did not happen. So under Donovan’s scenario, the fiscal officer should be fired for failing to follow standard procedure.
on September 24,2012 | 06:45PM
st1d wrote:
the university tried to smear and fire donovan, who was not involved in the transfer of the missing money.

this isn't donovan's first walk around the block with promotions, performance guarantees and money transfers. scheduling sports opponents for all u.h. sports gave donovan proper respect for contracts and insurance coverages.

to imply that donovan somehow was ignorant of promotional skills is defamation of character. no wonder donovan was appointed to a cushy job.

on September 24,2012 | 07:08PM
Toyuki wrote:
I agree, st1d! Its heavy-handed politics and Donovan was the bullseye.
on September 25,2012 | 09:17PM
csdhawaii wrote:
Donovan basically got to do a monologue to defend himself. It's nice to have friends who chair senate hearing committees, ain't it?
on September 24,2012 | 07:17PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
its clear the general counsel played a big part in this fiasco but greenwood tried to cover up they're involvment and blame Donovan and Sherrif. Greenwood is a goner, just watch and see.
on September 24,2012 | 08:39PM
droid wrote:
Did the general counsel approve the transfer or not? Donovan says no, according to this article. As I said before, he appears to blame Todo.
on September 24,2012 | 08:54PM
DAGR81 wrote:
Who is Todo?
on September 24,2012 | 10:34PM
csdhawaii wrote:
No, General Counsel didn't approve it. In fact, Ryan Akamine said they were supposed to have secured insurance before they even started selling tickets. I think I remember hearing Donovan blaming disbursing for the transfer. What about his own fiscal people, though? I believe Athletics has their own finance department.
on September 24,2012 | 11:23PM
OldDiver wrote:
Even if Donovan or Greenwood told Todo to wire the money without a contract he should not have done it. Even if Donovan or Greenwood told Todo to wire money to a escrow account without checking to see if it was an escrow account he should not have done it.
on September 24,2012 | 09:50PM
Toyuki wrote:
Donovan was away on the mainland and did not have anything to do with the wiring of $$$. Who allowed the wiring to happen? Who signed off on it or gave permission?
on September 25,2012 | 09:15PM
st1d wrote:
" and that if McMackin did not accept it McMackin would be investigated by the university" whoa, what's this bomb shell about? what was worth an investigation? what did $500,000 cover up? why no follow up questions by the senators or media?
on September 24,2012 | 10:18PM
CriticalReader wrote:
Let's face it. Everyone was blinded and distracted as they tried to figure out how they could get access to good concert seats. Maybe even backstage passes. Caution and care was thrown to the wind because no one wanted to be off the "lists" that were no doubt already being configured and re-configured. They did it with Sugar Bowl goodies, they do it with football tickets, and, unless someone does something, they're gonna do it again and again. With public monies. It's just too much already. People (Greenwood, Todo, Sheriff and Lendio) need to get fired. A clear message needs to be sent. If they aren't fired, the Legislature needs to step up and refuse to fund UH next fiscal year until it happens. Period.
on September 24,2012 | 10:40PM
ehowzit wrote:
on September 25,2012 | 12:48AM