Archive for March 14th, 2008

Quotes about Jim Donovan officially getting the AD job

March 14, 2008

About how the Sugar Bowl showed the potential for UH Athletics, JD said:
“I just think there is so much potential for UH athletics. If you look at what happened in December, when the Warriors were going to the Sugar Bowl, I swear there was not one unhappy (fan) in the state. It was like at every water cooler, at every restaurant, everywhere, people were talking about ‘are you going to New Orleans?’ That’s why UH sports is so important because it is embraced by the whole state. It can lift everybody that lives here. That’s what will drive us to really work hard in this job, because it is for the whole state.” (HA)

Asked what is his biggest challenges, JD said:
“One of the greatest challenges will be to get our annual operating budget in alignment and another will be to improve facilities right away. I mean, I think it is clear to everybody that we have facility needs. We’ve been beaten up nationally on the condition of some of our facilities. So we have to do that right away. So, money will be a key part of the first few years for what we do.” (HA)

Asked how bad their budget situation is now, JD said:
“I can’t say for sure because I haven’t had a chance to look at those numbers first-hand. So far everything I’m getting from people there (in UH athletics) is hearsay. But it looks like the budget deficit will be challenging for the near term.” (HA)

Asked how big the accumulated net deficit is, JD said:
“I’d say, right now, from what I’m hearing, somewhere in the range of $4 million to $6 million. I’ll know more after I have a chance to look at all the numbers.” (HA)

Asked what promises have been made on those issues by the upper campus, JD said:
“They have promised to work with us to help solve some of the annual operating expenses and facilities issues. I think that is in conjunction with the Legislature, major donors and public helping out. I think it is really going to take everybody to make it a better situation.” (HA)

Asked what are their immediate facility needs, JD said:
“Cooke Field, the women’s locker rooms, baseball locker rooms, coaches’ offices. …The women’s locker room hasn’t been renovated since 1982, when it was built. You have baseball players with lockers six inches wide … There are so many things to be done. We have to do more for the student-athletes, we have to take a look at our coaches and staff and make sure their offices and facilities are comparable to the people they have to compete against.” (HA)

Asked where he begins with such a long list of needs, JD said:
“So many items are high-need, high-priority. There could be 100 items, 500. But our job is to, every day, start checking things off those lists. Like anything in life, there are going to be more added on, so we have to make headway and make sure we are checking things off those lists. The only way to do that is by making progress every single day. If we do that, it will eventually result in more W’s (wins) than L’s (losses) for our teams.” (HA)

Asked where the Sugar Bowl money comes in, JD said:
“To my knowledge, that hasn’t been decided yet.” (HA)

Asked how much the Sugar Bowl money will be, JD said:
“I’m only getting hearsay on that total net amount but I would say the net amount will be in the neighborhood of $2 million. The question is how much of it is already accounted for (in shoring up the budget) and how much is left to spend. That, I don’t know. Whether it is being used (to balance) the operating budget for the current fiscal year or for some other purposes, I don’t know (yet).” (HA)

As a former player and alumnus, JD was asked what role he sees for those groups and said:
“We certainly want to embrace them more. We want to make them our 20th sport in a sense. We want to bring them back home. Who knows the program better and what it means to the state than someone who sweated it out on the field or court for UH? When they get to the point where they can give back (to UH), we want them to have the mindset that it is a good thing to do. When I look at UH in the 1980s, the mentality was that the state will provide. But the reality now for all state schools, not just here, is that the state will provide what it can but you have to look to the people, fans, donors, businesses, to help, too.” (HA)

Asked about the students, JD said:
“The student body president was on the (AD search) committee and I said, one of the things we’ve never done is ask them: What is it that you want us to do? I’d like to see a lot more communication with the students. What is it that we can do? Hopefully, once we start doing those things we can get them more involved. It has to be a relationship where the students feel there is a benefit in supporting UH.” (HA)

Asked if he plans changes in the AD staff, JD said:
“I was asked that by the selection committee and I told them, to be honest, I would have a hard time making an evaluation because I don’t know what their marching orders have been. I want to go in and see what they have to say, what the coaches, students and support groups have to say. We’ll develop a vision that all of us have input on. And I need those (staff members) to understand what their role in that will be. We have to get everybody moving in the same direction to meet those goals. If people aren’t moving in the same direction, then, that’s when changes would have to be made.” (HA)

Asked about his philosophy on football scheduling, JD said:
“In a nutshell, you want to be competitive but I’d like to avoid the extremes of a very high strength of schedule like this (2008) year and very low of last (2007) year. My thinking is only one, at the most, Division I-AA opponent, a couple of Bowl Championship Series opponents and a couple from non-BCS conferences. I’ll work with coach (Greg) McMackin and get his input. We have to think really hard about what are termed ‘body bag’ games where you’re playing a BCS opponent on the road in front of nearly 100,000 people. It is very difficult for even other BCS schools to win those.” (HA)

Asked where the previous administration went wrong, JD said:
“I don’t like to spend a lot of time focusing on the past. I like to look at the past, learn from it and then start putting a plan together for the future.” (HA)

Asked what he thinks the job of UH AD entails, JD said:
“It’s changed over the years. At one point it was managing very meager resources and trying to just field a team in various sports and play against military teams, community high schools, that kind of thing. As it moved forward, through Paul Durham and Ray Nagel and Stan Sheriff, it really started getting into big-time athletics. At that time it started to turn into what I call the business of education and entertainment.

And so the education part of it is you have to make sure the student-athletes have the resources they need to be successful, both academically and athletically. Over time, you have the academic center built and a real focus on keeping the student-athletes on track and of course getting their degrees because that’s what it’s all about.

On the business side, you have the facilities, you have marketing. You have to continue revenue streams and create new revenue streams. So going into the future, they have to be a very good business manager. They have to be rainmakers, with donations and revenue streams. They need to work well with the rest of campus, the Legislature and the executive branch, and also with Aloha Stadium.

It’s become a situation that was just trying to scratch some nickels together and play anyone who will show up to something that’s a very dynamic and diverse job responsibility.” (HSB)

Asked what is the first order of business for him, JD said:
“Actually, there are several. I need to sit down with the coaches and staff and talk to them about what they feel they need to win. I’m going to sit down with the support groups, and talk about how we can support them. The Legislature, obviously; while it’s in session I have to be down there, and be as transparent as we possibly can be and ask them for their support. The big part will be putting together a plan.” (HSB)

Asked if he has a timetable before he considers personnel changes, JD said:
“I have the advantage of having played there, coached there and worked there for 17 years and I still know a lot of the people who were there 5 1/2 years ago when I left. I know what their strengths are, what they bring to the table. When the (search) committee asked me that question, I said, to be honest, I have to sit down with them and find out what their marching orders were. How can you evaluate someone if you don’t know what they were told to do and what their direction was? What I need to do is go in there and learn and communicate and start to build a vision, and then evaluate them in terms of job performance. I think that’s the way we go forward.

There may be some changes that happen sooner than later, I don’t have a strict timetable. Everyone needs to be pulling on the rope in the same direction. It’s hard enough to win nowdays against a program with an $80 million budget with our $25 million budget if everyone’s pulling on the rope in the same direction. Boise State seems like they’re doing a great job in that area. We’re going to do it our own way. If people aren’t pulling the rope in the same direction, that will be the fastest way changes might happen.” (HSB)

Asked if there is ever a day off for an AD at UH, JD said:
“I don’t think there’s too many days off. It’s not quite a 24-7, but I’d say it’s about an 18-7. And that’s OK. I love UH athletics. I grew up my adult life there, from being a player, a coach and administrator. The opportunity to go back there is really special to me. I know how much the University of Hawaii means to the state of Hawaii. We are Hawaii’s team.

I’ll always remember my first game. When Coach (Dick) Tomey got us all in the locker room there and said, “You’re going to go out there tonight and you’re going to play for yourselves, and I’m sure you’re going to play well, we’ve had a lot of practices, double-days and everything, but I want you to remember one thing. More importantly, you’re going to be playing for the state of Hawaii.” And I think that’s something that I’ve never forgotten.” (HSB)

Asked how involved he will be with the football scheduling, JD said:
“My philosophy is I’ll be talking with Coach (Greg) McMackin very much with anything having to do with the football program. I was very happy when he stepped up and got the head job. He’s only been at the University of Hawaii two years and we won the WAC championship both years. That speaks volumes about his potential as our head coach.

We’re only going to play one Division I-AA team a year, at the most. Some years we don’t. There’s a place for one per year (sometimes). I don’t think we want to play more than two BCS teams per year, but we’ll be flexible depending what Coach McMackin wants. I really don’t think we should be playing two BCS teams on the road during the same season. The WAC is getting better and better. So we need to keep into account we don’t want to play games where our kids get really beat up in because it affects us in our conference. I’d like to see us play two BCS, two non BCS, as a rule what we’re looking for. But anything we do we’ll be in high communication with Coach McMackin.

I would be very interested in playing BYU again. And I think playing UNLV is very good for both schools. Maybe even something with San Diego State in the future. I’d like to reach out to the academies, maybe play some institutions in New York or Washington to get our players a different experience. Perhaps play at Annapolis (Md.), and check out Washington D.C. A lot of our kids maybe haven’t been there. We want them to have an experience in addition to playing the football game.” (HSB)

Asked about how one of JJ’s visions was to play a game in Japan or Australia and what about playing JJ”s SMU team in Japan or Australia, JD said:
“I will take nothing off the table. I did a lot of work on a potential game in Australia with ESPN. Once we look at the immediate things, I’m sure we will dust that off. And having SMU on the schedule is a no-brainer.” (HSB)

Asked about Title IX, gender equity, and where UH stands now, JD said:
“I would say that gender equity is a higher standard than Title IX. We’re probably in compliance with Title IX and very close with gender equity.

Title IX is numbers, how many opportunities for men, how many for women, facilities for men, facilities for women. Gender equity sort of overlays that. Say two coaches, one men’s golf, one women’s golf, are you treating them equitably? If the men’s coach gets a car and $300,000 a year and gets to play at Waialae Country Club every day, and the women’s coach plays at a public course and gets $40,000 a year and doesn’t get a car, you say, wait a minute, they’re doing the same job, it needs to be treated more equitably. We have to always be on top of that. I don’t know what tweaking has to be done yet, but we always have to be diligent with gender equity and of course Title IX.” (HSB)

Asked if fundraising and communicatino overlap or are separate, JD said:
“I think they connect big time. We are Hawaii’s team. The facilities we play in are paid for by everyone. By definition that means everyone who pays taxes is a stakeholder in UH athletics. We need to communicate with them, embrace them and thank them.

This is not about Jim Donovan or June Jones, or Riley Wallace, or Greg McMackin or Dave Shoji. It’s about UH athletics representing the state of Hawaii. We need to communicate with them that we appreciate what they’ve done in the past and we need their help in the future. A lot of that comes through the legislative and executive branches, allowing us to get maintenance funds and capital improvement funds. They’ve been very good to us, but we’re always going to have future needs.

That’s one source. The other is getting donors and letter-winners and alumni to come in and donate to the school they went to. With great communication it makes it a whole lot easier to have people step up and say how can we help. Essentially we’re reaching out to everybody.” (HSB)

About how some say that the job of UH AD is inherently set up for failure, regardless of who has the job, JD was asked how he remains optimistic in a job with inevitable dilemmas, daily and otherwise, and he replied:
“Being an athletic director is a tough job, no question. So many different constituencies and stakeholders are involved. Education and entertainment don’t always connect. There are so many issues out there. With that said, Hawaii is a very unique opportunity. You have an opportunity to represent an entire state. There aren’t too many athletic programs like that, a few, but not many.

We’re 2,500 miles away from anywhere else. There’s an inherent pride in the success. I think the Sugar Bowl is an example. I didn’t see one frown in the month of December. UH athletics brought that to our state. If we can bring that feeling more often, through football and our other teams … It’s like when Coach Tomey told me I’m playing for the entire state. I’m playing for the entire state again.” (HSB)

About how the budget is one of his first concerns, JD said:
“We are going to put a plan together and then have everyone work toward making that plan work.” (HSB)

About what her husband John would have said to JD yesterday, Dede Awana said:
” ‘I knew you would make it. I always knew’ My husband had every confidence in the world. He would be the proudest man here today. The only thing that makes me sad about today is he passed away four and a half months ago.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Donovan’s parents, Jim Jr. and Mary, flew in from Anaheim, Calif., for the announcement that their eldest of four children had attained his dream job, University of Hawaii athletic director. His wife, Tracy, and children, Joshua and Jacqueline, were present alongside Dede, his 76-year-old hanai mom, who helped guide and shape Donovan over the past 28 years. Donovan has achieved success building a life in the islands, aided by an affinity for relating to people locally and on the mainland. It wasn’t so easy for him in the early going. In 1980, 20-year-old Jim Donovan III arrived on Oahu to prepare for his first season of Division I football as an offensive lineman for the Rainbows, coming out of Santa Ana (Calif.) College. He was known as a popular and outgoing person back home, but the new culture and lifestyle he was thrust into was somewhat daunting. That’s when the Awanas, who had helped other UH athletes acclimate to the islands by “adopting” them, entered the picture. Dede approached him at a team practice before the season began. She had heard that he had no family in the islands. She and John offered to host him on Sundays at their Kailua home — a proposition that caught Donovan completely by surprise.”

About his surprise at the Awana’s offer to join their family, JD said:
“I would have never seen it coming. I went over there and had some of the best cornbread of my life, and bacon and eggs, and just got to be in a family environment. You can’t put a price on how valuable that was to me.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “It was John Awana who shuttled Donovan to and from the Manoa dorms, and spoke to the youth about the challenges of life and whatever else he had on his mind — “a man of few words (who) when he talked, he said a lot.” The football player spent hours with the Awanas’ young grandchildren and quickly became a full-fledged family member. It definitely wasn’t what he expected, but became something he embraced.”

About the Awanas bringing him into their family, JD said:
“The reality is, looking back now after 20 years in Hawaii, it doesn’t surprise me, because I think that’s how people in Hawaii are. They really reach out and they want to help, and as long as you’re respectful and humble and honest, then it’s easy, and the relationships just come.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “His parents realize the benefit of the hanai ties and are deeply grateful for it. Jim Jr. and Mary had met with the Awanas several times, both in Hawaii and on the mainland.”

About what the Awanas did for JD, JD’s father Jim Jr. said:
“When he first came here he was very lonely. They did a lot for him, introduced him to people. He broadened himself and knows a lot more people. I came from a small (population) state (Oklahoma) and I understand that things are a little different in a small population. It’s people, that do things. And he understands that.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Mary knew something had fundamentally changed during one of her son’s visits back to the mainland. He was still a student at Manoa then, but already viewed Hawaii in a different light.”

About when she realized things had changed for JD and his view of Hawaii, Mary Donovan said:
“He said ‘I got a plane to catch at 9:30, I gotta go home.’ ” (HSB)

Proud of JD, Dede said:
“My husband made a comment many years ago, when we knew him for about three or four years: ‘Whatever he sets his mind to, he’ll be a success at.’ Jim is not afraid of the work. He never was. I think it’s long coming.” (HSB)

Despite John’s death in October, JD thinks his hanai father is aware of his success:
“I know he’s here today somehow. It’s the circle of life, and things happen — you don’t always understand them, and you move on. He was a great influence, and their whole family was a great influence on my life.” (HSB)

About how he was beloved at Sevite High in Anaheim, JD’s mother Mary Donovan said:
“At his graduation, one of the brothers told him, ‘I don’t know how the principal let you through.’ I wasn’t sure what he meant. Later, he said that they didn’t want to let him go. They wanted to keep him another three or four years.” (HA)

HA Note: “The UH athletic department, to which Donovan had devoted nearly all of his adult life as a football player, coach and administrator, also may have wanted to keep Donovan in 2002 as it endeavored to find a replacement for then-athletic director Hugh Yoshida, one of several Donovan mentors. But apparently not enough to grant him an interview for a job that eventually went to recently ousted Herman Frazier. And so Donovan departed to become executive director of the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl, a position he held until this week, when the Board of Regents approved a recommendation from a selection committee headed by Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw to name Donovan as Frazier’s successor. Donovan’s deal is for five years with a salary expected to be $240,000 annually, plus bonuses. The decision has elicited near unanimous excitement from those in and around the department, as well as an extended family of UH fans and supporters disenchanted with the department’s previous administration.”

Happy that JD was selected as their AD, Mack said:
“I’m really pleased for the university and for Jim. It was a good process and there were great candidates. I think Jim deserves the job based on his past experiences with the university and his record of successes.” (HA)

About how he backed JD’s candidacy, Dave Shoji (who was on the AD selection committee) said:
“He’s very deserving. I’ve always thought we should have somebody who was a player, a coach and administrator. He’s come up through the ranks. I think he understands where coaches are coming from and he had a good mentor in (former AD) Stan Sheriff. I think he’ll listen to the coaches, which I feel is really, really important.” (HA)

In his opening remarks yesterday after being introduced as AD, JD said:
“It’s good to be home.” (HA)

About JD, Hinshaw said:
“He bleeds green. Clearly he’s an experienced leader with a lot of athletics-related background. He has great communication skills, he knows what it takes to bring people together and he’s very good at laying out plans. On top of that, he has a passion for the athletic department and for the university.” (HA)

“Jim’s vision, experience and ability, combined with his passion for UH Manoa and bond with Hawaii, make him a great match for ensuring the future success of our athletic programs.” (HSB)

HA Note: “Raised in Anaheim, Donovan arrived at UH in 1981 and was quickly enamored of the state and its people. His embrace of the local culture was nurtured by Dee Dee and the late John Awana, who introduced themselves to the young prospect during football practice one day and invited him to eat breakfast with their family on Sundays.”

About how the Awana family welcomed him into their ohana, JD said:
“They said that they knew I didn’t have any family here. They said they’d pick me up and drop me off, so I said OK and they treated me to some of the best cornbread I’d ever eaten in my life. I got to know their family and they treated me like I was part of their family. That’s what Hawai’i is all about, people like that.” (HA)

HA Note: “Donovan would go on to become an all-conference honorable mention at offensive guard and earn a bachelor’s degree in geography. He later earned an executive master’s degree in business administration at UH.”

HA Noet: “In 1984, Donovan took his first administrative job at the department as manager of what was then Rainbow Stadium. Three years later, he was named sports marketing director, and later, in 1993, assistant athletic director for administrative services under Yoshida. At yesterday’s conference, Donovan recalled a memo he received from the athletic director while he was managing the baseball stadium. The memo informed administrators that there would be a reduction in student help. At the time, all of Donovan’s staff were student helpers.”

JD said that his first reaction to the memo reducing student help was:
“How am I going to run the stadium now?” (HSB)

About his next reaction to the memo reducing student help, JD said:
“I thought to myself, ‘Someday, I’ll be in that office and I’ll be writing those stupid memos.’ ” (HA)

“Someday I’m going to be down in that office and I’m going to be the one writing those stupid memos!” (HSB)

HA Note: “While Donovan said it was not his specific goal to eventually become the athletic director, he did acknowledge that each position he has held since his time as stadium manager has prepared him to now assume that position.”

About how JD’s different experiences have prepared him for the AD spot, Hugh Yoshida said:
“He’s worked very hard in all the areas and all the positions he’s held and I’m very delighted he got the job. He’s a person that is very dedicated, he has a good handle on the program and he’s a person we can trust. We’ll support (him) because he’ll lead by example.” (HA)

HA Note: “And while not getting the AD position in 2002 may have seemed like a setback, Donovan said the experience he gained by leading the Hawai’i Bowl (“a multimillion-dollar corporation”) and the extensive relationships he built downtown through that job better prepared him when his name was finally called.”

About JD running the Hawaii Bowl before getting the AD spot, JD’s wife Tracy Orillo Donovan said:
“The old adage applies: You have to go away to come back.” (HA)

HA Note: “Donovan tells a story about the first day of work after he left UH. Following nearly 20 years at UH as a student and employee, he recalls how, west-bound on H-1, he “began to take the UH off-ramp to school and, then, had to make a U-turn after that to get to my new office.” ”

HA Note: “Donovan’s supporters say he is the right person to capitalize on the renewed enthusiasm for UH sports and to soothe feathers ruffled by what was widely perceived as his predecessor’s unresponsiveness within the department and aloofness within the community.”

Apologizing for the turmoil surrounding UH’s athletic department over the past few months and emphasizing his belief that UH’s athletic programs “belong to the people of Hawaii”, JD said:
“I sense there may have been a drift in understanding that everyone in Hawai’i is a stakeholder in our program. No one person is bigger than UH athletics. All I can do is give my word that our staff will try every day to show their appreciation and thanks to the people of Hawai’i for all of the support they give us.” (HA)

HA Note: “In his new job of University of Hawai’i athletic director, out-going Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl executive director Jim Donovan hopes to expand ties with ESPN and see David Matlin succeed him with the bowl. Donovan, who has headed the bowl since its birth in 2002, was named to head the UH athletic program yesterday and threw support to Matlin, who has been the game’s director of operations.”

Supporting Matlin to be the new head of the Hawaii Bowl, JD said:
“David has been a key component in growing the bowl game.” (HA)

HA Note: “Prior to helping start the Hawai’i Bowl, Matlin was in the UH athletic department for six years and also worked for the Houston Astros. His father, Lew, is a former general manager of the Hawaii Islanders. Pete Derzis, vice president of ESPN Regional Television, which owns and operates the bowl, said it would be “premature” to say who will succeed Donovan but said he plans to have extensive talks with Matlin about the bowl’s future and its management.”

About Matlin, ESPN Regional TV VP Pete Derzis said:
“David has been a major contributor to the success of the Hawai’i Bowl. David and I will talk next week and formulate the best management plan we can for moving the game forward.” (HA)

About JD getting the UH AD position, Derzis said:
“We’re absolutely thrilled for Jim and his family. We know of his love for the University of Hawai’i and feel he’ll do an outstanding job there.” (HA)

HA Note: “Donovan and Derzis both said they hope to expand upon the ties developed over the past 5 1/2 years. Reportedly, that could take the form of ESPN becoming involved in a UH-hosted basketball tournament.”

About furthering UH’s relationship with ESPN, JD said:
“We’re going to have some preliminary talks on how we can possibly leverage the relationship. To say any more than that at this point would be getting ahead of ourselves. But ESPN loves Hawai’i and are very committed to growing the Hawai’i Bowl.” (HA)