EXCLUSIVE: Greenwood, Apple apologize to regents for concert fiasco
Honolulu (HawaiiNewsNow) – University of Hawaii Board of Regents admonished UH President M.R.C. Greenwood and UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple during a day-long closed-door meeting Wednesday when the two officials also offered their apologies to the board, sources said.
And sources said Jim Donovan rejected an offer to extend his athletics director contract in the weeks before UH canceled the Stevie Wonder concert because it had not been booked with the performer's legitimate agent.
According to people familiar with the regents' executive session discussions, the regents spent about five hours discussing Donovan's return to the UH and the Stevie Wonder blunder at Windward Community College during the regents' monthly meeting.
On Monday, the regents received the 57-page investigative report about the failed Stevie Wonder concert which had been prepared by lawyers from the firm Cades Schutte.
After they read the report, several regents wanted to fire Donovan for what they considered dereliction of duty, because the probe found he provided little oversight of the concert after approving it, sources said.
But Donovan's lawyer, David Simons, had written the UH a letter July 16, threatening to sue if he wasn't reinstated to his old job. UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple negotiated a return-to-work agreement signed Aug. 11, in which Donovan agreed not to sue and UH agreed to hire him into a newly-created communications position in UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple's office. The UH also agreed to pay $30,000 in Donovan's legal fees, according to the agreement.
Apple apologized to UH regents behind closed doors yesterday for what he admitted was a terrible performance at a news conference Aug. 13, in which he praised Donovan as having done a "fantastic" job as athletics director, even while Apple was removing him from the job and reassigning him to a public relations position in his office, sources said.
One regent has said about Apple's conduct, "If somebody is threatening to sue you, are you going to give them a hug at the end of the day?"
Immediately after the executive session ended, regents Chairman Eric Martinson said, "We apologize for the university's handling of this matter and are deeply sorry for the concern and the upset it has caused in the community."
Behind closed doors, sources said the regents talked about different options for Donovan, including whether he should be allowed to remain as athletic director until March when his $240,000-a-year contract expires.
Sources said former UH Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw asked President Greenwood for a five-year contract extension for Donovan within the last year, a proposal Greenwood said she and the regents rejected.
Then Hinshaw asked for a three-year extension for Donovan, sources said, which Greenwood also turned down.
Then, sources said, Greenwood offered Donovan a one-year contract extension just a few weeks before the Stevie Wonder concert was canceled. But Donovan did not agree to the one-year deal.
Donovan was not available for comment.
"We are very, very sorry, sincerely sorry that this happened," Greenwood told reporters Wednesday night following the marathon closed-door session.
Behind closed doors with UH regents yesterday, Greenwood also apologized to regents who admonished Greenwood and Apple for the way they handled the aftermath of the failed event.
Greenwood told reporters there was a great deal of discussion with regents in executive session about, "How do we make it right? We made a mistake. Our employees made mistakes. We want to go forward and do the right thing."
But sources said Greenwood also told the regents if they wanted her to reverse any decisions that have been made, such as removing Donovan as athletics director, she would follow the board's wishes and try to convince Apple, who is Donovan's boss, to reverse his decision to remove Donovan as athletics director.
"We do not want to micro manage the university," said one regent. "If we do not have confidence in the way things are being done, then we have to replace the president," the regent said.
But according to those familiar with the discussions, there was not any detailed conversation about replacing Greenwood.
Sources said the regents also talked in executive session about the political pressure they have received from lawmakers, Gov. Neil Abercrombie and others to reinstate Donovan.
The regents concluded the university needed to remain autonomous and not to react to pressure from outside the school.
State Senator Donna Kim told Hawaii News Now she's considering holding investigative hearings to look into the UH canceled concert fiasco and its fallout.
Kim said that's in reaction to the large amount of phone calls and emails she and other lawmakers are receiving from constituents, asking for someone to look into what led to a series of blunders at UH Manoa.
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