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Matlin named UH athletic director

  • Hawaii Bowl executive director David A.K. Matlin was named the new University of Hawaii athletic director on Wednesday during a press conference.

  • Hawaii Bowl executive director David A.K. Matlin arrived at Wednesday's press conference naming him new athletic director at UH.

Hawaii Bowl executive director David A.K. Matlin has been named the new University of Hawaii athletic director.

Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman concluded negotiations with Matlin and he was introduced at a news conference on campus at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The announcement ends more than three months of speculation about the position since the Dec. 9 resignation by Ben Jay. Jay held the job for almost two years since arriving from Ohio State.

"I believe, during these challenging times for UH Athletics, that David has the proven executive leadership experience, vision and passion to stabilize and grow the program," Bley-Vroman said in a university news release. "We were searching for someone with the ability and agility to lead us through this complex and important period in the evolving national collegiate athletics landscape, and I am confident that we have found that person in David."

"This is honestly my dream opportunity and I understand that there are many challenges ahead," Matlin said in the written news release. "I am confident that with the support of the athletics department staff, UH leadership, and the entire state, we will be successful. I humbly ask the people of Hawaii, and UH fans all over the world, for their support to ensure that UH Athletics not only survives, but thrives."

Matlin’s name was forwarded to Bley-Vroman by an eight-member search advisory committee last week.

Matlin, 50, has run the Hawaii Bowl since 2008 and the Diamond Head Classic since 2009.

Matlin and insurance executive Keith Amemiya emerged as the leading candidates from a field of at least 70 applicants for the position, though Amemiya was not interviewed by the committee.

Instead, Amemiya, 48, former executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, was interviewed by Bley-Vroman March 13 in a campus meeting.

UH has said the choice will go to the UH Board of Regents next month for final approval.

Matlin was born in Honolulu and given the middle names Alexander and  Kalakaua (he shares a birthday with the Merrie Monarch), but raised on the mainland where his father, Lew, was a baseball executive. He is a graduate  of the University of Michigan and received an MBA from UH.

After graduating from Michigan, Matlin worked his way up from an intern with the Houston Astros to the team’s marketing operations manager and director of sales. At age 26 he was the youngest director of sales in Major League Baseball.

But Matlin and his wife, the former Dana Hatate of Honolulu, whom he met at Michigan, wanted to return to Hawaii. In 1998, Matlin joined UH as a marketing assistant overseeing Midnight Ohana and other events while completing an MBA.

As an assistant ticket manager at UH, Matlin was credited with overseeing a conversion to computerization that dragged the office into the 21st century. In 2002 he became associate director of the inaugural Hawaii Bowl and in 2008 was named executive director of the game for ESPN Events, which owns it. He added the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in 2009.

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