Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he has no plans “at this time” to ask for the resignation of West Virginia University Board of Governors Chairman Drew Payne.
A report released this week by state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Payne should have recused himself during discussions at WVU about the athletic department’s third-tier media rights proposals. Payne is an investor with West Virginia Media Holdings, which had the inside track to be a subcontractor if IMG College got the contract.
MetroNews asked Tomblin about the AG’s report Wednesday and if he would be asking Payne to step down.
“The attorney general has concluded there were things done sloppy but he didn’t really say there had been a violation of the law or anything,” the governor said. “Unless there would be something further come out, I would not ask for the resignation at this time.”
AG Morrisey’s did say the work on the third-tier contract had significant errors and general sloppiness. He also concluded there was no intentional wrongdoing.
Morrisey recommended the contract be rebid and WVU has agreed to do so.
WVU President Jim Clements said Wednesday and entire new committee will be named for the rebidding.
“WVU Procurement will announce a new reconstituted committee in the near future; none of the 6 members will be reappointed. As I’ve said, the goal is to get this process right; we will take the time we need to address the deficiencies noted in the Attorney General’s report,” Clements said.
WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck led the initial committee.
The governor appoints members to the boards of governors that oversee colleges and universities in the state. State code gives the governor the power to remove members from a board, without them resigning, but that can prove to be a very difficult process.
State code says a member of a higher education governing board cannot be removed by the governor except for “official misconduct, incompetence, neglect of duty or gross immorality and then only in the manner prescribed by law for the removal of the state elective officers by the governor.” And that could include a hearing before the governor with possible witnesses and documented evidence. There’s also an appeal process.
Chairman Payne said earlier this week he hopes the Board of Governors can fine tune its process “so we can do a better job of identifying possible conflicts or problems going forward.”
AD Luck has admitted his conservations with Payne were wrong.
Attorney General Morrisey’s report also said WVU BOG member David Alvarez, who also has ties with West Virginia Media, should have recused himself.
WVU suspended the process of signing of contract for its third-tier rights after Morgantown businessman and West Virginia Radio Corp. owner John Raise pointed out possible problems with the process.
The university plans to rebid the contract soon. It notified all of the previous bidders Tuesday. There’s been no announcement who will be on the committee or if AD Luck will stay as chairman.