Will UH release results of probe into failed concert?

Published: Aug. 21, 2012 at 9:55 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 21, 2012 at 10:46 PM HST
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Honolulu (HawaiiNewsNow) – A day before the University of Hawaii Board of Regents meets behind closed doors to discuss the investigation into UH's failed Stevie Wonder concert and Jim Donovan's re-assignment as athletics director, it's unclear how much of the probe UH will make public.

Tuesday, UH President M.R.C. Greenwood claimed Donovan did not lose his athletics director post because of the botched concert that he oversaw. She made the statement in an email sent to UH students, faculty and staff.

Greenwood appeared to confirm what Hawaii News Now has reported for weeks: that she and the regents did not want Donovan to continue as athletic director once his contract expired next March. Sources said they wanted to replace Donovan long before the concert fell apart in July.

In the email, Greenwood said Donovan's re-assignment from athletics was "not a result of nor derived from the investigation over the concert, and the two events should not be have become so connected in the way that they have."

Greenwood said it was almost coincidental that the UH Manoa administration determined that four and a half years into Donovan's five-year employment agreement, it was time to search for a new director of athletics.

Last week, the UH announced it was re-assigning Donovan from his job as athletics director to a public relations job in the UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple's office, but maintaining his salary at $240,000 a year until his contract expires in March.  His salary will then be reduced to $200,000.

He returned to UH last Monday, after a month of paid leave while the university investigated the canceled concert that was supposed to be a fundraiser for UH athletics. Apple said an investigation cleared Donovan of wrongdoing.

Tuesday, the UH Board of Regents will meet in executive session, closed to the public, to discuss Donovan's status and the investigation into the concert, during their monthly meeting held at Windward Community College.

One key question remained unanswered Monday: will UH hide behind various technical legal reasons to keep the results of the investigation into the failed concert secret?

An attorney from the law firm Cades Schutte compiled the results of the investigation into the canceled concert last weekend and turned in a "draft version" of the investigation to Greenwood, a source said.

UH officials have discussed the possibility of releasing part or even all of the report, after Greenwood and the regents discuss the probe's results in executive session, behind closed doors Tuesday.

But it's unclear what will be released to the public

Since the report was compiled by a lawyer and is still in draft form, UH could use several legal reasons to keep it secret.

The university could claim it's not in final form and can't be released as a draft and UH can also say the investigation's contents are protected by what's called attorney-client privilege and must remain hidden from public view.

The UH risks looking like it's trying to hide something if it refuses to release a significant portion of the report about an embarrassing episode in the UH's history.

Hawaii News Now emailed a UH systems spokeswoman Tuesday asking whether the probe is still in draft form and whether part or all of the investigation will be released.  The spokeswoman referred HNN to Greenwood's email and the regents' agenda, neither of which answered those questions.  Greenwood's email said she'd answer questions about the case after the meeting Tuesday.

Sources said several UH officials besides Donovan OK'd parts of the arrangements for the concert, including UH lawyers, who approved the concert contract.

UH's chief financial officer, Howard Todo, approved wiring $200,000 in UH funds to a Miami agent, money the university has been unable to get back.

Former UH Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw was briefed about plans for the concert, she told Hawaii News Now in July.

"There's plenty of blame to go around," said a source familiar with behind-the-scenes discussions among top UH officials.

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