David Matlin was named athletics director at the University of Hawaii Wednesday.
The 50-year-old Hawaii native has run the Hawaii Bowl since 2008 and the Diamond Head Classic since 2009.
The announcement was made at a press conference at the Les Murakami Stadium Grand Slam Club.
“I believe, during these challenging times for UH Athletics, that David has the proven executive leadership experience, vision and passion to stabilize and grow the program,” said UH Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman. “We were searching for someone with the ability and agility to lead us through this complex and important period in the evolving national collegiate athletics landscape, and I am confident that we have found that person in David.”
Matlin said he was honored and humbled to have been selected as UH’s next AD.
“I feel a calling to make a difference, and I think this is a great forum, not just to make a difference for UH student athletes, which is what our role is, the athletic department, the university, but the state of Hawaii. And if you can change a state, you can change a country, and if you can change a country, you can change a world,” he said.
“The dream opportunity is the opportunity to impact students, they’re our future leaders, our student athletes, what a great opportunity to be a part of that. Our athletic department, the impact that it has on the University of Hawaii, the state of Hawaii. Is the University of Hawaii athletic department the most important part of the university? No, but as a lot of people have heard, it’s the front porch.”
Matlin’s recommended salary will go before the UH Board of Regents for final approval at the April 16 meeting.
With a start date of April 27, Matlin is taking over a program that has run a deficit in 12 of the last 13 years.
“A lot of people say the biggest problem is the budget deficit. Well, that’s an issue, but I think the real issue is doing the best with what you have and growing it. There’s new creative ideas and opportunities, or some ideas that I have that I’d like to do. I don’t want to say what they are right now because I don’t want anyone else to do them before we do them, because I think there are some opportunities. But at the end of the day I think it comes down to stewardship and maximizing what you have and then I think people will invest more,” he said.
Matlin acknowledged his challenges in the short term: hiring a new men’s basketball head coach in the midst of an NCAA violations dispute.
“I think we need to do it as expeditiously as possible. But more importantly than that, we need to make the right decision. So I understand the deadline (of the National Letter of Intent), the clock’s ticking. I don’t start until April 27, I believe officially, but I will be working in consultation with the chancellor and other people on campus to get that done as quick as possible. We start today.”
Former athletics directors offer advice
Those who held the position before him know what it’s like.
When asked what former athletics directors have said in terms of the job’s challenges, Matlin replied, “That’s a good question. You know, I mentioned (former athletics directors) Jim Donovan and Hugh Yoshida, worked with them both. They’re concerned for my health to be honest with you.”
Donovan said, “in general, it’s tough running a Division I program 2,500 miles away from your nearest competitors. That’s always a challenge.”
Yoshida told KHON2 that Matlin needs to be “moving in the right direction and making sure that he balances the budget.”
Yoshida added that Matlin needs to be flexible. If things don’t work out in one area, he said, Matlin needs to go in a different direction.
Rainbow Wahine Volleyball Coach Dave Shoji said Matlin needs to make positive changes.
“We’re all kind of waiting to see what he’s going to do,” he said. “There’s not any one thing but obviously for me, it’s facilities and how to keep forward and compete with the rest of the teams we’re trying to beat.”
“I just hope, and I know it’s partly his responsibility, but he’ll need help from the powers that be and the private side and fans in general to come up with a realistic funding model,” Donovan said.
Current athletics director Ben Jay estimated earlier that the department would have a $3.5 million deficit due to low football ticket sales and a lack of fundraising.
Jay told KHON2 he will walk away from the job next month feeling satisfied, knowing that the UH athletics program is headed in the right direction.
Bley-Vroman convened the search in January after Jay announced his resignation.
Earlier this month, an eight-member search committee submitted Matlin as the sole recommendation to Bley-Vroman for the position.
Sources said Matlin and former Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Keith Amemiya were the two finalists for the job.
Amemiya was not granted an interview by the search committee.
Jay came aboard in 2012, replacing Donovan, who was reassigned to another post at UH, following the botched Stevie Wonder concert. Donovan had been AD since 2008.
Prior to that, Herman Frazier served in the position from 2002 to 2008, but was fired after head football coach June Jones left for a higher paying job at SMU.
Frazier replaced longtime AD Hugh Yoshida, who retired in 2002 following nearly 10 years as athletics director.
View the press conference in its entirety below:
The following information was provided by the University of Hawaii:
As a former employee of the UH athletics department, an MBA graduate from the Shidler College of Business, and a local business leader with more than 20 years of sports management experience in Hawaii, Matlin has a deep appreciation for the significance of the role that athletics plays in the success of the University and in the lives of the people of Hawaii.
Matlin’s last 13 years of affiliation with ESPN and managing the Hawaii Bowl, Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, and the Hawaiian Islands Invitational has allowed him to build relationships with NCAA conferences, athletic directors, and national organizations. He is one of nine members on the Executive Committee of the Football Bowl Association, which is the national organization established to promote, protect and ensure the quality of the student athlete experience for all college bowl games. Matlin is well respected among local and national constituents in the field of sports, specifically within intercollegiate athletics.
Matlin has over two decades of sports and entertainment marketing and management experience and has been involved with various entertainment events highlighted by the Major League Baseball World Series; the 25th Houston Astrodome Anniversary; the Miss Universe Pageant; NCAA men’s volleyball Final Four; and the NIT Basketball Tournament. He has been the Executive Director of the Hawaii Bowl and the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic for the past seven years. He was also involved in other productions, such as Christina Aguilera, Howie Mandel and Ray Charles concerts, as well as the Broadway musicals “Annie” and “Annie Get Your Gun.”
This is Matlin’s second stint at the UH Athletic Department after serving five years (1994-99), as an information officer primarily working with the ticket office, while also enrolled in the school’s MBA program. While working at UH, he was instrumental in developing and integrating information technology to assist with sales and distribution of individual, group and season tickets for all of UH’s ticketed programs. He also implemented a point-of-sale ticketing, credit authorization and remote phone sales system which increased ticket sales from 300,000 to more than 600,000 in a two-year period. He helped to devise a strategic three-year plan which included online and remote outlet sales as well as interactive voice recognition for telephone sales.
Matlin graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts. Soon after graduating, he started his career as a marketing operations manager for the Houston Astros. In three years, he created operating procedures for the stadium information systems, promotions and special events. He was also in charge of divvying up over $3 million in local, regional and national sponsorship programs. In his fourth year, at the age of 26, he was promoted as the youngest Director of Sales in Major League Baseball. Matlin oversaw a staff of 16 and handled renewals and new sales of both group and season tickets, skyboxes and luxury suites. In just two years, new season ticket sales increased by 35%, and he was instrumental in developing the Diamond Level seating area which netted an additional $700,000 in ticket revenue in 1993.
After six years with the Astros, Matlin moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he was the assistant general manager/director of marketing of the Arts Center Enterprises and The Majestic Theatre. There, he honed his marketing skills in advertising and promoting Broadway shows, musical concerts and comedy acts.
Matlin became the vice-president of m2c and the director of operations for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in 2002. He has also provided management consulting for Panda Travel, Sodexo, and AIO Group. He focused his efforts on business development and client training. In 2008, he created DAKM Enterprises, Inc. and was named the Executive Director of both the Hawaii Bowl and later the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Matlin is also the president of Value Travel Hawaii.
Matlin is married to the former Dana Hatate and they reside in Honolulu with their two children, Kisa and Ross.
- University of Hawaii – Master’s in Business Administration, 1997
- Beta Gamma Sigma – Member, Honor Society for Collegiate Schools of Business
- Lum Yip Kee Award – Most Outstanding MBA Student
- University of Michigan – Bachelor of Arts, 1987
- President, DAKM Enterprises, Inc.
- Executive Director, Hawaii Bowl and Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic
Current and Past Community/Professional Organizations
- Entrepreneurs Foundation of Hawaii (2013-present)
- Football Bowl Association (FBA) – Executive Committee (2012-present)
- Pro Bowl Committee (2012)
- Koa Anuenue Board of Directors (2009-present)
- University of Hawaii Alumni Association (UHAA) – Board of Directors (2009-present)
- University of Hawaii Athletics Advisory Board (2008-11)
- Hawaii Bowl Foundation Treasurer (2008-present)
- Shidler Alumni and Friends Board of Directors (2005-present)
- University of Hawaii Athletics Strategic Planning Committee (2008)
- Hale Kipa – Board of Directors (2001-04)
- Treasurer for Grace Christian Community Church (2002-04)
- Na Koa Kick-Off Celebration Ticket Chair (2000, ’01)
- University of Hawaii Shared Vision Committee (2001)
- UH Athletics Priority Premium Seating Committee Coordinator (1999)
- Miss Universe Ticketing Chair (1998)