The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

April 16, 2013

Report calls for rebid of WVU media rights

MORGANTOWN — It has not been a good week for West Virginia University’s ambitious plans for reshaping its athletic department.

First, over the weekend, the West Virginia Senate failed to act on proposed Senate Bill 125, which created TIF financing for a project in Monongalia County that would have provided a new baseball stadium for WVU that it would share with a New York-Penn League franchise, a new interchange on Interstate 79 and shops and restaurants.

Then on Monday, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a report that said the school’s effort to collect bids for its multimedia rights to certain athletic events was conducted with “significant errors and sloppiness” and that it should be rebid.

While saying the attorney general’s investigation found no “intent of intentional wrongdoing,” it did point fingers at WVU Board of Governors Chairman Andrew Payne and board member David Alvarez, along with athletic director Oliver Luck, for their actions.

Morrisey indicated that Payne and Alvarez should have recused themselves from participating in bid reviews for the contract and said Luck provided confidential details of the proposed contract with IMG College, which had tentatively been in line to win the contract at an estimated $110 million for 12 years, before the deal was released publicly.

Both Payne and Alvarez had ties to West Virginia Media, a company involved in trying to work out a subcontract with IMG to handle broadcasts of WVU football and basketball games along with coaches’ shows.

Before going public with the results of his report, Morrisey passed them along to WVU President Jim Clements, who immediately announced in a press release that the contract would be rebid.

“It is clear from this report that mistakes were made in the procurement process,” he said, “and we will take proactive steps to fix them. Starting over is simply the right thing to do.”

The school asked the attorney general to conduct a review of the process after John Raese, owner of West Virginia Radio, the group that had broadcast WVU sporting events over a long period of time, complained about the sanctity and honesty of the process.

Luck issued a brief statement in which he acknowledged that his communication with Payne was “inappropriate” and should not have occurred, but said it did not affect the evaluation or the selection process.

Payne and Alvarez also issued brief statements.

Another major problem pointed out by the attorney general was that two members of the committee put together to pick the company that would be awarded the contract did not vote.

Not voting were associate athletic director Mike Parsons and athletic business director David Szul. While the attorney general felt that the four people who did vote — Luck, Robert Griffith, Graham Peace and Steve Kite — gave the process validity, he thought it best that it be set aside.

Originally the committee consisted of just three members — Luck, Szul and Parsons — but it was expanded to include the other three.

“There was nothing wrong with expanding the committee, but when Parsons and Szul didn’t vote it is unclear if the three-person original committee would have given the proposal to IMG,” Morrisey wrote. “While there is no evidence of improper motives or release of information that unduly prejudiced the process, the communications themselves were improper as they could suggest an improper motive or intent.

“To be clear, our review uncovered no communication that directly impacted the evaluation process or constituted a material breach in the selection process. Nonetheless the communications should not have occurred and give rise to the appearance and/or inference of impropriety.”

Szul indicated his preference for IMG but was concerned about reaching true comparative financial figures between the respective proposals and WVU’s Mountaineer Sports Network, while Parsons indicated he was not in favor of outsourcing the multimedia rights.

As for the TIF, that remains in limbo and could be brought back up this weekend by the Senate.

There were those in favor of the TIF who were deeply disturbed by the outcome.

“A big game of chicken was played and the residents of West Virginia lost. Plain and simple. North Central West Virginia lost out on 2,000 jobs in the infrastructure development, and it’s a shame,” said Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia.

Email Bob Hertzel at or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads