BY JIM DOOLEY – State Senator Donna Kim expects University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood and former UH Manoa Athletics Director Jim Donovan to appear before a special senate committee that is looking into the “Wonder Blunder” fundraising fiasco at Manoa.
Kim said an “informational briefing” on UH management issues is scheduled Sept. 24 at the Capitol.
“Eric Martinson, chair of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents; M.R.C. Greenwood, University of Hawaii president; Jim Donovan, former University of Hawaii athletics director and representatives from Cades Schutte law firm, “fact finders” into the failed concert to raise money for UH Manoa Athletics department, are expected to go before the committee,” Kim said in a news release.
The Athletics Department had planned to stage a fundraising concert by singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder last month but cancelled the event after Wonder’s agents said he had never agreed to the appearance.
A $200,000 deposit paid by the University for the event has since gone missing and Greenwood said she believes the University was defrauded of the money.
Yesterday, Regents chairman Martinson announced that the formation of a special “task group” to examine the university’s operational and financial controls and oversight practices.
He notified Kim of the creation of the task group and said a report of its findings would be submitted to the regents and to the public October 18.
Kim said today her committee would not wait for the UH report.
“While we appreciate the Board of Regents’ efforts in finally exercising its oversight responsibilities to address system-wide concerns affecting the management and finances of the University, we will be addressing accountability and transparency issues during the briefing, which does not seem to be scope of the Task Group,” the senator said.
“We trust the University and the Board of Regents will cooperate with the Committee to restore the public’s trust and confidence in the State’s only public institution of higher learning,” Kim said.
The day after Donovan announced in July that the Wonder concert had been cancelled, Greenwood and Applesaid that Donovan and Athletics Arena manager Rich Sheriff has been placed on paid leave while an investigation of the concert was conducted.
That fact-finding probe was conducted by attorneys at the Cades Schutte law firm here.
When the probe was completed, and after Donovan had threatened a lawsuit against the University, Donovan was reinstated but moved to a new job created inside Chancellor Apple’s office.
Sheriff was also reinstated.
University vice president Rockne Freitas has since been serving as acting Athletics Director and a “nationwide search” for a new AD has been launched.