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Director of Athletics Search - Jim Donovan

California State University, Fullerton

Director of Athletics Finalist

James Donovan

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Jim DonovanWith a resume that includes student-athlete, graduate assistant coach, baseball stadium manager, marketing director, assistant athletics director, associate athletics director, and executive director of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Jim Donovan was named the Director of Athletics for the University of Hawaii at Manoa in March 2008.

In four-and-a-half years at the helm of Hawaii’s only Division I athletics program, Donovan has hired nine head coaches (football, men’s volleyball, women’s golf, sand volleyball, women’s soccer, water polo and men’s and women’s basketball), secured a partnership with ESPN Regional Television, Inc., for the creation of the Diamond Head Classic basketball tournament, and worked tirelessly with the Hawai‘i State Legislature and private sector to fund various athletics facility improvement projects. More than $40 million in construction projects have been funded since Donovan has been named Director of Athletics, including a $5 million donation by the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation – the largest in athletics history – towards the building of a new football/track complex.

In addition, Donovan negotiated a contract with Oceanic Time Warner Cable and KFVETV on a new television partnership which will bring in more than $14 million to the athletics department over a six-year period. He also implemented a restructured football parking plan at Aloha Stadium which has brought in more than $750,000 in incremental revenue to ‘Ahahui Koa Anuenue, the department’s umbrella booster club. Meanwhile, UH’s Corporate Partner Program generated more than $3 million in cash and trade value each of the past three years to help offset the department’s operating expenses.

On the playing field, UH has competed at a high level under Donovan’s tenure, including 20 post-season appearances (not including the women’s and coed sailing team’s ICSA and PCCSC championships) – either a team playing in the post-season or an individual placing first or second in the NCAA championships. Highlights include two football bowl appearances, women’s volleyball reaching the NCAA semifinals, men’s basketball participating in College Insider Tournament (CIT), sand volleyball appearing in post-season in its inaugural year, men’s and women’s tennis team’s participating in the NCAA tournament, and softball reaching the Women’s College World Series for the first time in school history . Individual accomplishment also came in the form of Amber Kaufman, who won the NCAA high jump championship, bringing UH its first national title in track and field in 26 years and two divers placing first and second in the NCAA Championships. Success could also be found in the classroom each year with an estimated 200 scholar athletes (with a cum GPA of 3.0 and above) and the continued rise of the school’s Academic Progress Rate.

Donovan, 53, spent 17 years in athletics administration at UH prior to a five-and-a-half year hiatus as the Sheraton Hawai‘i Bowl’s Executive Director from 2002-08. The Anaheim, Calif., native (Santa Ana Junior College and Servite High School alumnus) began his tenure with the UH athletics as manager of Rainbow Stadium (presently Les Murakami Stadium), where he served for three years (1985-88). Donovan was promoted to sports marketing director in 1988 and spent the next six years heading the promotion and corporate sponsorship of the department.

In 1994, he was named assistant athletics director for administrative services and, two years later, became the associate athletics director for nine years serving as the department ‘s Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

During his first stint with UH athletics, Donovan helped negotiate contracts and assisted with the recruitment of former football coach June Jones, current baseball coach Mike Trapasso and softball coach Bob Coolen. He also negotiated contracts with KFVE-TV, KCCN Radio (now ESPN 1420AM), the Stan Sheriff Center and Aloha Stadium scoreboard advertising packages, and MBNA affinity credit card.Donovan also helped establish relationships and improve the quality of service provided to the customers of UH Athletics. He was directly responsible for creating the Rainbow Fun Run, Midnight ‘Ohana, the UH Letterwinners Club, the Athletic Director’s Club, the Paradise in the Pacific Golf Tournament and UHAD Corporate Sponsor Golf Tournament. 

Serving as the COO and CFO, he effectively managed the department’s operational budget of $17 million. He used new technological advances to launch the department’s website and implemented new ticket operation improvements which included computerized ticketing; credit card, phone and internet sales; and establishing thirdparty ticketing network with remote outlets.

Donovan also served on the Gender Equity Subcommittee and was the department’s spokesperson for matters involving the Hawai‘i state legislature, UH Board of Regents, Athletic Advisory Board, Aloha Stadium Authority, NCAA Certification Committee and various community organizations. His vast relationships with other Division I administrators resulted in multi-year football contracts with schools such as Southern California, Brigham Young and San Diego State.

In addition to serving as founding member of the UH Letterwinners Club, Donovan also was on the board of directors for the UH Alumni Association, Hawai‘i Bowl Foundation and Shidler College of Business Alumni Association.

In 2002, Donovan started the Sheraton Hawai‘i Bowl from the ground up. In six years, he secured conference affiliations with the Western Athletic Conference, Conference USA and the former Pac-10. The game consistently ranked among the highest-rated non-BCS games and achieved profitability in five of the six years.

Donovan also served as president and CEO of m2c, Inc., a business consulting company that provides leadership and strategic direction in event management. Some of his clients included ESPN Regional Television, Panda Travel and Sodexo Food Services.

He played football at the University of Hawaii as an offensive lineman from 1981-82, where he earned honorable mention all-WAC honors as a senior. Following his playing career, he was a graduate assistant for former coach Dick Tomey from 1983-85.

Donovan is currently UH Manoa’s director of external affairs and community relations. His main focus is branding and marketing the Manoa campus.

Donovan earned his bachelor of arts degree in geography and executive master’s degree in business administration from UH. He is married to the former Tracy Orillo and they have two children, Jacqueline and Joshua.

Current & Past Community & Professional Positions

  • Pro Bowl Committee, chair of the Business Development
    sub-committee (2012)
  • Hawaii Bowl Foundation, Board of Directors (2003-present)
  • City and County of Honolulu Salary Commission, Chair (2008-present)
  • UH Football Centennial Celebration, Co-Chair (2009)
  • University of Hawaii College of Business Alumni & Friends, Board of
    Director (1999 – 2005)
  • University of Hawaii Letterwinner’s Club, President, Board of Director
    and Founder (1998 - Present)
  • American Diabetes Association Hawaii Chapter, Rainbow Rhapsody
    Silent Auction Chair (2003)
  • Vice Chair for The Doris Ching Endowed Scholarship for Access (2006)
  • University of Hawaii Alumni Association, Board of Directors (1999 –
    2002, 2005 - 2012)
  • American Red Cross/UH Athletics Hurricane Iniki Relief Fundraiser,
    Co-Chair (1992)
  • National Collegiate Marketers Association, Charter Member
    (1991 – 2002)
  • American Marketing Association, Member (1995 – 2002)
  • Beta Gamma Sigma, Member (Honor Society for Collegiate Schools of
  • Hawaii Business Travel Association, Board of Director (1992 – 1995)