Hawaii Monitor: What's Behind the UH Athletics Debacle

RJ Brown/Civil Beat

Editor's note: Civil Beat introduces a weekly column by Kaaawa blogger Ian Lind called "Hawaii Monitor." Lind, a former investigative reporter with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, edited and published a monthly newsletter titled Hawaii Monitor from 1990-1993 that covered Hawaii politics.

Lind was a senior aide to former Honolulu City Councilman Neil Abercrombie, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii and director of the Hawaii area program of the American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker organization that works for social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Lind is also a past chairman of the Honolulu Community-Media Council.

Look for his column every Wednesday on CivilBeat.

The Senate Special Committee on Accountability, chaired by Sen. Donna Kim, created a fascinating spectacle with its public probe of “the operational and financial management” of the University of Hawaii, triggered by the athletic department’s failed Stevie Wonder concert and the suspension of popular former athletic director Jim Donovan.

The committee held two extended public informational briefings with more than 10 hours of televised testimony, and released thousands of pages of internal university documents, witness statements, contracts and emails.

The proceedings and documents have not answered the question of what happened to the $250,000 wired to a faux Bank of America escrow account in Florida, including $200,000 sent by UH, and the other $50,000 from Honolulu promoter Bob Peyton. University officials say they were victims of a sophisticated scam.

But the committee certainly succeeded in obtaining a remarkable look behind the scenes of the state’s premier institution of higher education and exposing underlying issues that created the “perfect storm” which apparently allowed scammers to disappear with the money.

The committee’s report is pending, but here’s my broad brush account of what lay behind this debacle.

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