CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Though West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey said his office found no evidence of intentional wrongdoing, there were enough “significant errors and sloppiness” by WVU to force a rebidding of the school’s third-tier media rights.

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West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey

MORE: Read Morrisey’s statement

Speaking Monday from his state capitol office, Morrisey cited flaws in the procurement process that led to IMG College being awarded the contract in January. The attorney general’s 24-page report was posted online, part of Morrisey’s intention to “give the public confidence that the review undertaken by our office is ethical and thorough.”

MORE: Read attorney general’s 24-page report.

Morrisey’s reports specifically cited mistakes by West Virginia athletics director Oliver Luck and WVU Board of Governors chairman Drew Payne.

“It’s our recommendation that all current proposals be rejected and that the multimedia rights matter should be rebid,” Morrisey said. “Second, all proposers should be allowed to part in the rebid process.”

Morrisey said WVU has indicated to him the media rights will be rebid: “That announcement will be forthcoming soon. I can’t define what ‘soon’ means, although there’s no substantive reasons why the issues raised in this report can’t be remedied quickly.”

WVU president Jim Clements, in a statement issued after Morrisey’s news conference, claimed, “Starting over is simply the right thing to do.”

The university asked Morrisey to conduct the review after ethical questions were raised about the Request for Proposals (RFP) process conducted last year. IMG College won the bidding, reportedly with a 12-year deal worth up to $110 million. But finalization of that contract has been on hold while Morrisey reviews the years-old connection between IMG and Payne. Payne is also a stakeholder in West Virginia Media, which participated in IMG College’s presentation and stands to profit from the pending deal as a subcontractor.

Morrisey said Payne improperly received information from Luck and further violated confidentiality policies by commenting publicly on the terms of the IMG deal.

Luck acknowledged in a statement his “inappropriate” communication with Payne. “I concur with the Attorney General’s findings that these communications were improper, but agree they did not impact the evaluation or selection process,” Luck said. “The department looks forward to the re-bid.”

Payne said he’ll work at “fine-tuning our board processes so we can do a better job of identifying possible conflicts or problems going forward.”

The attorney general said BOG member David Alvarez also should have recused himself, given his financial ties to West Virginia Media.

During a five-week review, Morrisey said his team “found no evidence of intentional wrongdoing or intentional interference that might be used to advance a predetermined result.” However, the process was tainted by the appearance of possible impropriety, he said, including curious decisions involving the evaluation committee that selected the winning bid.

Two of the six members “were not afforded a timely opportunity to formally vote in favor of the winning proposal” and wound up not voting. Those nonvoters were Mike Parsons, deputy director of athletics, and Mike Szul, associate athletic director of business operations. The report also revealed that the makeup of the committee changed during the bid process and “may have materially affected the outcome of the decision.”

Third-tier rights typically involve one football game per season (one that isn’t desirable for the major networks), several nonconference basketball games, plus the broadcasts of non-revenue sports like baseball, soccer, tennis and gymnastics. These third-tier packages also encompass radio broadcasts, weekly coaches’ shows, stadium sponsorships and online content.

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Comments

  • Chef Camille

    Typical WVU backroom crap. This needs to be corrected with a total housecleaning. The City of Morgantown, the County and the University are corrupt and influence peddling continues to suck taxpayer money down the drain with select cronies get all the pie.

  • Medman

    Obviously, WVU is seeing the results of a board selection process that is a political, buddy system that decides who sits on the boards of the BOG and WVU Fdn. They are giving plane rides, tickets and entertainment, all of which is tax free to a select group of insiders. There are folks who buy their way into to these boards not because of their donations, but simply because they administer trusts for people who actually worked for a living i.e. Ruby and others. But, the elephant is the room is the financial picture for WVU over the next 3-5 years. We are headed for a dose of cold, hard reality about ticket sales, fee increases and Big 12 recruiting & travel problems. Just wait a while and see how things work out for this crowd that is currently making the decisions for our University.

    • rdl

      completely agreewith your assesment

    • cutty77

      Yea in 2 more years will be cashing 25 million dollor checks. That is a terrible problem to have. LOL

      • Jay

        Yeah maybe 25 mil checks but what's the expenses going to be.

  • hughesknight

    By law the Governor appoints members of the Board of Governor's to oversee the operations of WVU. This includes hiring and retaining the president and giving direction to the president. Within recent memory the BOG rubber stamped the apointment of a political appointee to be president. The current head of the BOG main previous connection to WVU and the BOG is that he was a drinking buddy of the basketball coach and he has a conflict of interest in that he has a financial interest in one of the media companies that is bidding on the sports package. Looks like everything is in order and not more oversight is needed. We will hire three lobbyists to go to Charleston and educate the Governor and the legislature to keep the appropriations coming and to stay out of WVU's business. Looks like everything is in order.

  • Chester

    Poor Ollie

    The Things he must endure

  • polarbear

    WVU may be a public institution however the athletic dept goes not use state money to fund itself. If the athletic does borrow any money from the university it is repayed in full.

    • cutty77

      Polarbear is 110% right. As for sports at WVU they pay for everything by itself.Marshall gets money from the State for all of its sports.

      • Luke

        Any money made at athletics events belongs to WVU and thus the taxpayers of WV. What on earth are you talking about?

        • cutty77

          What I'M talking about is The State pays for Marshall Sports.WVU pays it own way.

          • Luke

            It is all taxpayer money, what difference does it make whether the Legislature appropriates it or the state institution retains taxpayer income and uses it to operate the institution? WVU is a part of State government.

  • Andrew Cousins

    N8QQD you can't say that the coverage is second rate. The only things that will change most likely is sponsorship of first downs, touchdowns and things like that. IMG or any other media company taking over leaves the broadcasters alone just look at Marshall and Pitt.

    • N8QQD

      I meant audio quality, since I have been involved in radio broadcasting.

      • Miles

        West Virginia Radio does an A+ job on the radio end. Always has been well above the norm. Media rights is something completely different that has nothing to do with radio. Check new media and the future..... TV in WV is 30 years behind the curve. The closest we get to new media is profootballtalk.com. Log onto dominion post.com lately? This is way bigger than radio. They should keep WVRadio and rehaul every other aspect of WV media. Period.

  • JimJim

    "Morrisey specifically cited mistakes by Wes Virginia athletics director Oliver Luck " what did you expect????

  • N8QQD

    The quality of IMG broadcasts pale in comparison to MSN. Why should we have second rate coverage for our teams?

  • WestBGV

    The most interesting aspect of the AG's report is that, since this is not an acquisition (i.e., WVU isn't spending money to acquire something) but rather it is a revenue source through granting rights to another entity that is acquiring those rights, it isn't subject to the State's or WVU's acquisition (i.e., solicitation) process.
    WVU on its own chose to run it like a solicition.
    Perhaps in hindsight, that too was an error in judgement.

  • Paul

    No wrongdoing; just significant errors and sloppiness? Serious doubt exists about that conclusion.

    WVU doesn't make errors or involve themselves with sloppiness. A fine example: Tech in Montgomery.

    • Jim

      Dear Paul,

      Please put your Cabell County Community College green back on and slink back to your cave in the woods.

      Sincerely,
      Fan of the state's ONLY Land grant institution

      • MrJ

        What's another state university have to do with this story? I thought this article was about trying to right wrongs? Someone comes across as critical of one institution and we automatically assume they favor another?

        Kinda touchy, aren't we?

        • Sammy

          WV Tech in Montgomery has everything to do with every story regarding WVU. WVU "owns" Tech and has ignored them now for 17 years. Clements states in this story "it is the right thing to do." He wouldn't know the right thing if it smacked him in the face. The right thing for him to do would be to right the wrongs on the Tech campus. And don't count on them re-bidding "SOON." Tech was promised, BY WVU, a search for a new leader would begin SOON, years ago. Promises from WVU mean absolutely nothing!

          • Gwenolyn

            Truer words were never spoken.

        • Gwenolyn

          Yes, righting the wrongs is the message. WVU needs to right the wrongs on its Montgomery campus.

      • Paul

        I have no allegiance to Marshall or WVU.

        However, I do recognize and detest WVU's mishandling of the Montgomery campus for 17 long, long years.

      • WVSU

        Dear Jim,

        WVU isn't the states only land grand institution.

        Best Regards,

        WVSU

        • Jim

          Dear WVSU,

          Sorry, did not mean to offend you.

          Sincerely,
          Fan of the state's finest land grant institution.

  • Jim

    It will cost WVU in the long run now. The broadcast properties are not worth today what they were 12 months ago. With both teams in the rebuilding process IMG should be able to save a few coins now.

  • Bill

    So if Raese gets out bid, does he cry foul play once again?

    • jfk

      he said he would not bid if re-bid

      • Greg

        Good luck with that.

  • joe v

    you must have missed the part of the report, that WVU doesn't even have to bid it out , because it was going to make money....not like it has been...with brother raese he made the money...

  • thornton

    A bit embarrassing on WVU's part, eh?

    Be more embarrassing if they fall to avoiding any bidding process in the future on a like level of deal.

    Has Drew Payne resigned yet?

    • WILLIAM

      I'M LOVIN' IT --- TIF FAILED, LET WVU SPEND THEIR OWN MONEY TO BUILT THIS BALLPARK. THEY HAVE ALOT OF CASH, LOOK AT WHAT THEY PAY HUGGINS AND HOLGERSON. OVER $10,000.00 DOLLARS A DAY AND THESE COACHES ARE A MESS. THIS IS A WIN FOR THE COMMON FOLKS OF THE GREAT STATE OF WV

      • Big John

        There are roads leaving West Virginia to greener pastures and I do not feel we will miss you?

  • Big John

    What should WVU do if they receive less money on the rebid of their Tier 111 rights?

    • hughesknight

      Take it like a man and keep their mouth shut. The AG said that there was no intent to stack the process but that is was poorly done and some of those on the board should have recused themselves. WVU is a public instituiton and part of their funding comes from the legislature. For the most part they should follow state bidding and purchassing procedures on big dollar items to ensure fair arms length business transactions. Hats off to WVU for asking for the AG's opinion and to the AG for what seems like reasonalbe conclusions and recommendations.

      • Big John

        What funding comes from the legislature-not one penny from the TIF bill?

        • WILLIAM

          OIVER 'MONEY MAN' LUCK - WITH HIM IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY! MONEY AND GREED HAS TAKEN WVU TO ALL TIME LOWS. WVU HAS BEEN GOING DOWNHILL EVER SINCE OLLIE HAS BEEN IN CHARGE. WVU NEED TO CLEAR HOUSE AT THE ATHLETIC DEPT.BECAUSE THESE IN CHARGE HAVE BEEN A BIG FAILURE!

          • Larry

            I am afraid you are right.

          • Big John

            Guess you would want us to stay in the Big East and get 2 million a year instead of the Big 12 where it will be at least 2o million?