Cal State Fullerton names new athletic director
Jim Donovan, former director of athletics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, today was appointed director of athletics at Cal State Fullerton.
University President Dr. Mildred García made the appointment following a nationwide search conducted by a nine-member search committee chaired by Amir Dabirian, Vice President for Information Technology. Donovan steps in for Dr. Steve Walk, who has served as interim director since July.
“I am thrilled to now be able to call Jim Donovan a Titan,” said President Mildred García. “I’m confident in his ability to lead our intercollegiate athletics program with continued success, and ensure an enriching experience for our student-athletes.”
A 21-year veteran of athletics administration, Donovan, 53, becomes the 11th director of athletics in the history of Cal State Fullerton after overseeing Hawaii’s 21-sport operation with a budget of more than $30 million from 2008-12. During his tenure, the athletic programs saw a collective improvement in both Academic Progress Rate (APR) and overall grade point average (GPA) while managing a department that included more than 120 full-time staff, 200-plus part-time staff, and 450-plus student-athletes.
Donovan spearheaded a fund-raising effort that secured more than $40 million in public and private capital improvement projects and increased planned giving and major gifts from $5 million to an estimated $14 million. He also secured a partnership with ESPN Regional Television for the creation of the Diamond Head Classic basketball tournament and negotiated a contract with Oceanic Time Warner Cable and KFVE-TV on another television partnership that will bring in more than $14 million to the athletics department over a six-year period.
On the field, the Rainbow Warriors competed at a high level, making 20 postseason appearances, including two football bowl appearances, an NCAA semifinal appearance for women’s volleyball, softball’s inaugural appearance in the Women’s College World Series, and postseason tournament appearances for men’s basketball, sand volleyball, and men’s and women’s tennis.
Donovan spent 17 years in athletics at Hawaii prior to a six-year hiatus as the Executive Director of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl from 2002-08, beginning as a two-year offensive lineman for the Rainbow Warriors in 1981-82, earning honorable mention All-Western Athletic Conference honors as a senior. From there, he spent two years as a graduate assistant football coach and followed that with a three-year stint as manager of baseball’s Les Murakami Stadium.
In 1988, Donovan was promoted to sports marketing director, spending six years heading up the promotion and corporate sponsorship aspects of the department. In 1994, he was named the assistant athletics director for administrative services and, two years later, became the department’s associate athletics director for nine years, serving as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.
He served on the Gender Equity Subcommittee and was the department’s spokesperson for matters involving the Hawaii state legislature, UH Board of Regents, Athletic Advisory Board, Aloha Stadium Authority, NCAA Certification Committee, and various other community organizations.
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.
A 1983 graduate of Hawaii with a bachelor’s degree in geography, he earned an executive master’s degree in business administration in 1996. An Anaheim, Calif., native who attended both Servite High School and Santa Ana College, Donovan is married to the former Tracy Orillo and they have two children, Jacqueline and Joshua.
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
President Garcia on Donovan’s accomplishments:
“Following a very competitive search I want to talk about Mr. Donovan’s accomplishments. He comes from the University of Hawaii where he’s spent 21 years in athletic administration and where he demonstrated his passion by helping students realize their goals, both as students and as athletes. While at the helm of Hawaii’s Division I athletic program he hired nine coaches, secured a partnership with ESPN regional television for the creation of the Diamond Head Classic basketball tournament, and worked tirelessly with the state legislature and the private sector to fund various athletic facilities and improvement projects. During his tenure more than $40 million dollars in improvement projects were funded, including a $5 million gift, the largest donation in Hawaii athletics history. In a very real sense Mr. Donovan is coming home to Southern California.”
Donovan on his connection with Cal State Fullerton:
“I’m so pleased and proud to be here today, as President Garcia said, this truly is a coming home for me. My father went here and I remember coming to pick him up from his engineering classes. I was much younger and so was he. Southern California and Hawaii are two of the nicest places to live in the world, so I’m very happy to be back home.”
Donovan on what drew him to Cal State Fullerton:
“The reason why I’m so pleased to be here is because Cal State Fullerton has improved so much. Athletically, we have 12 team national championships, hundreds of All-Americans, and the baseball team with 21 consecutive NCAA postseason appearances. It’s a very good athletic program and it’s only going to get better.”
“The thing that also attracted me here was the school. The school has improved so much. I come from a very diverse situation and the fact that this is one of the top 10 diverse universities in the United States was one of the reasons that I was attracted here. We also have a top-10 graduate school program here, and that’s very important for student-athletes because we’ll let them know as recruits that they’ll be able to get a superior education here.”
“Cal State Fullerton is just getting better and better across the board and we’re going to make the athletic program the best it can be.”
Donovan on his goals for Cal State Fullerton:
“Through the interview process we talked about a lot of different things, but the main goal is to win championships. We’re going to win championships at Cal State Fullerton. We’re going to get into the postseason, get to the NCAA’s, and we’re going to need the support of our alumni, our boosters, our corporate sponsors, our coaches and our staff. We will get it done. What it really comes down to are the student-athletes. We’re here to give the student-athletes a good education, a great experience, and part of that is winning.”
“The first thing I want to do is sit down with all of my staff because ultimately the coaches are the leaders of their respective programs. I need to find out what they need to be successful and then I’ll work very closely with our administration to put a plan together to start meeting those needs.”
“I think we also need to put together a long-term plan too. We need to see where we want to be three to five years down the road. We have to find out what we need facility and staff wise and then go out and get it done. Yogi Berra, a great manager for the New York Yankees once said, ‘if you don’t know where you’re going, that’s probably where you’ll end up.' We’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen to us."