Punahou selects Garcia for AD post


POSTED: Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The No. 1 high school athletic program in the country with the President of the United States counted as an alumnus. There likely was no higher-profile vacancy out there when Punahou School sought a new athletic director.

Punahou broke new ground yesterday when officials told faculty and staff that the Buffanblu athletic department would be headed by a female for the first time in the school's 168-year history. Jeaney Garcia, the athletic director at Brentwood (Calif.) School will replace Tom Holden, who is retiring after 11 years at the end of this school year.

Garcia was selected out of a pool of more than 100 applicants from Hawaii and the mainland to take over what Sports Illustrated called the top prep program in the country last year. She was one of four finalists; the others were current Punahou associate athletic director Jeff Meister; Jeff Hutzler, director of athletics and football coach at La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day; and Abe Wehmiller, athletic director at Lakeside School in Seattle.

“;She's highly qualified,”; Punahou president Dr. James Scott told the Star-Bulletin last night. “;The breadth of her experience is impressive. Her resume just jumps out at you. She's very articulate and enthusiastic.

“;She's been involved with smaller independent schools than Punahou and she's ready for a bigger pond, ready to join a community such that Punahou offers. She'll be great for the ILH, great for the state and great for Punahou, and will complement what Jeff (Meister) and Kale (associate AD Ane) do.”;

Several members of the selection committee, who asked not to be identified, said that the candidate pool was very good. That the school went outside the “;Punahou family”; did not surprise committee members, given the number of off-island candidates.

Scott said that choice was both surprising and not.

“;Based on our history (of hiring) it is surprising,”; the 1970 Punahou graduate said. “;But it's not surprising considering the national visibility and notoriety we have been attracting.”;

Garcia, who participated in Monday's Great Aloha Run, is a member of the U.S. master's national championship cross country team and a certified elephant trainer. The Kansas State graduate also worked at the Positive Coaching Alliance before taking the position at Brentwood in 2006.

“;She's going to have tremendous support here,”; Holden said. “;We've always been a team and we'll go forward as a team. She'll fit right in.

“;She'll certainly bring a female perspective. That'll be one of the plusses.”;

Garcia, who visited Punahou over the weekend, was unavailable for comment.


The Star-Bulletin's Paul Honda contributed to this story