HONOLULU — A review of records reveals that University of Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan and his staff spent large amounts of money from private discretionary donations, expenditures that included dinners at pricey restaurants and trips to the mainland.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday that in the nearly five years Donovan headed the university’s athletic department, he and his staff spent more than $800,000 in private discretionary donations. The Star Advertiser obtained the records through a request and reviewed them Tuesday.
It was reported that records indicate the money was used on a wide range of goods and services, including taking staff members to the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament and paying for dinners to entertain donors and corporate sponsors.
Donovan and others in his department were reimbursed from three UH Foundation accounts for items that school officials said were approved by UH and foundation officials.
Donovan headed the department from 2008 until about two months ago when he was removed as athletic director. He moved to a new UH marketing job after a bungled Stevie Wonder concert, which was intended as a fundraiser for university athletics. The concert was canceled because it wasn’t authorized by Wonder or his representatives. The university now is trying to recoup $200,000 lost in the debacle. Donovan was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Donovan defended spending donation money. He said the foundation funding helped the athletic department nearly triple its pledged donations to about $11 million between 2008 and the time he left.
“If people want us to generate more revenue, we have to act more like a business” cultivating supporters, attending events, buying tables at charity events and doing things that private businesses typically do, Donovan said.
“There’s no sleight of hand here. If (the foundation) didn’t approve the expenditures, I would pay for it. It’s as simple as that,” he said.