Jim Donovan, a veteran collegiate athletics administrator with more than 20 years of experience, is in his fourth year as the Director of Athletics at Cal State Fullerton, a role in which he was appointed in December 2012.
Since taking the reigns as the 11th director of athletics in school history, Donovan has brought Cal State Fullerton to new heights as the athletics department has notched several major accomplishments both academically and athletically speaking.
Under Donovan’s leadership, the Titans have won 13 Big West Conference Championships and the 2015 Titan baseball team made its first trip to the College World Series since 2009. During the 2015-16 season alone, men’s and women’s soccer, softball and baseball brought home conference titles and each made appearances in the NCAA postseason along with women’s golfer Martina Edberg.
In January 2016, the Cal State Fullerton Dance team clinched its 15th UDA/UCA Collegiate National Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., as the Titans competed in the Division I Jazz category.
Additionally, Donovan has seen the fundraising efforts increase by more than $900,000 for a 183-percent increase, as well as the student-athlete attendance which has increased by 217-percent. Since Donovan’s hiring in 2012, Cal State Fullerton has seen a spike in sponsorships from 120,000 to 271,000, a 125-percent increase and in ticket sales from $385,000 to $479,136 marking a 24.5-percent increase.
In his short time at the helm of the Cal State Fullerton athletics department, Donovan has been an integral part in getting the Student Success Initiative (SSI) passed. The SSI, which was approved by the Student Fee Committee, President Mildred Garcia and CSU Chancellor Timothy White over the summer of 2014, allows the university to make substantive improvements through a multi-faceted student fee that will bring upgrades to athletics facilities and provide additional scholarship support for students as well as strengthen academic advising and provide upgraded technology and much more for the good of the university as a whole.
With the SSI in place, Cal State Fullerton athletics facilities have seen many upgrades including a state-of-the-art weight and training facility, the refurbishment of Titan Gym and Titan Stadium which incorporated a new video scoreboard, lighting upgrades to the intramural fields, as well as first-class branding at all the athletics facilities.
Academically, all teams are on track to obtain a four-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) above 946 and a total of 180 Cal State Fullerton student-athletes have been named to the Big West Conference All-Academic Team since 2012.
Donovan came to 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 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 brought 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.