The Times West Virginian

July 25, 2013

WVU, IMG set for big plans; Caridi in the mix

By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — There were no surprises in the release of West Virginia University’s Tier 3 contract with IMG College, but the monetary figures are staggering when taken in full.

WVU is guaranteed $86,490,500 over the course of the current contract, which runs through the 2024-25 school year, but if renewed for another decade the total payment to the university over both contracts would be $198,555,700.

The current deal pays WVU $6 million in this first year then increases annually until the payout in the final year the school receives $15.1 million for the rights to its radio, television, advertising signage, publications and Internet.

If renewed WVU would earn $15.85 million in 2025-26 and that would increase to $23.4 million in 2034-35.

WVU also gets a $5 million signing bonus, $3 million of it to be paid by June 2014, and $2 million by June 2015. There is a similar bonus if the contract is renewed.

WVU also receives bonuses based on the success of its teams, although they are not major awards compared to the overall income generated by the contract. WVU would get $25,000 for participating in the BCS football or whatever its successor is and would earn $100,000 for winning the national football championship.

In basketball it could earn between $10,000 and $25,000 for appearing the NCAA Sweet 16 to the national championship game.

The deal, of course, did not come easily, challenged by Morgantown-based West Virginia Radio Corp., owned by businessman John Raese. Raese charged the original bidding on the contract was rigged to give the rights to IMG.

The state’s attorney general, while finding no criminal action, did demand that the rights be rebid with athletic director Oliver Luck not involved, but the results were the same, leading Raese to file yet another suit. Raese’s company had broadcast WVU games as far back as anyone could remember, save for two years in the early 1960s.

West Virginia Radio’s lawsuit names 10 defendants, including WVU Board of Governors Chairman Drew Payne, West Virginia Media Holdings President Bray Cary, athletic director Oliver Luck and WVU President James Clements.

The suit accuses Cary and WVU officials of “fraud, collusion and the palpable abuse of discretion.” Meanwhile, Clements failed to control Luck and other high-ranking university administrators, according to the suit, “exposing WVU to unnecessary expense, management and ridicule.”

The 49-page complaint alleges that WVU officials forced out longtime athletic director Ed Pastilong, then launched various “fraudulent schemes” to enrich themselves and benefit Cary’s West Virginia Media.

The contract allows IMG to create a new radio network, which will be known as the “Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG” or “MSN Radio from IMG.”

IMG will set up the stations and there was unsubstantiated Internet talk on Wednesday that there had been some negotiations with Raese’s West Virginia Radio but that they had broken off.

It also was reported that WVU’s longtime play-by-play announcer Tony Caridi has been negotiating with IMG and that IMG wants to hire him as play-by-play announcer for both football and basketball and more, to handle coaches’ shows and other related assignments.

WVU has expressed a desire to make that a two-hour pre-game show and one-hour post-game show.

Men’s basketball games will keep 30-minute pre- and post-game shows.

West Virginia Media will handle the televising of games and coaches shows and give WVU a lot of promo time without any cost, including increased coverage of special events during news broadcasts and promo opportunities during 5:30 p.m. statewide newscast.

There will be at least 24 half-hour coaches’ shows, football and men’s basketball, at least one football game and the spring game carried on WV Media along with all available men’s basketball games. They will make their “best effort” at televising least four women’s basketball games and four non-revenue sports games, while producing a fundraising gala, a football signing day show and a sports magazine show in weeks when there is no coach’s show.

WVU coaches and university personnel will also be made available to appear on WV Media’s “Decision Makers” show, and the network will give air-time promotions to WVU merchandise.

Speaking of WVU merchandise, WVU did not grant away the revenue that comes from its sale of apparel as well as maintained ownership and control of all public address announcements and video messages.

The contract calls for WVU to make an initial investment of $2.5 million to support “new, revenue-generating assets” and then an additional $3.5 million for capital improvements by August 2019.

The royalty fees given WVU could be reduced should the school be hit by NCAA sanctions, “material adverse publicity,” natural disasters or conference changes.

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