COMMENTARY

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The committee to evaluate WVU’s third-tier media rights is undergoing a complete makeover. That means athletics director Oliver Luck won’t be involved, fallout from his — let’s politely call it “sloppy” — disregard for rules of confidentiality, candor and common sense.

Let that soak in for a moment: The WVU athletic department is embarking upon an outsourcing contract potentially worth $100 million, and the athletic director has to wait in the lobby.

Banning Luck signals a bold move by WVU president Jim Clements, but given the severity and frequency of Luck’s missteps during the first bidding period, the break was entirely necessary if the school aims to legitimize this contract.

Luck improperly shared confidential bid information with WVU board of governors chairman Drew Payne, who also sits on the board at West Virginia Media, which happened to be partnering with IMG College. An article in Thursday’s Dominion Post revealed more email exchanges, including Luck sending Payne a 14-page prospectus on Legends Sales & Marketing, which West Virginia Media’s competitors.

The WVU athletic department is embarking upon an outsourcing contract potentially worth $100 million, and the athletic director has to wait in the lobby.

Also gone from the original committee are deputy athletic director Mike Parsons and associate AD for business operations Mike Szul. Both of them were reluctant to jump on the IMG College bandwagon during the first bidding’s evaluation period, which apparently led Luck to handpick three additional panelists last October, a midstream maneuver he pulled off with no oversight from the university’s procurement office.

For those scoring at home, the three late committee additions —faculty members Bob Griffith, Steve Kite and Graham Peace — all followed Luck in voting for IMG College on Dec. 3. Parsons and Szul, who comprised two-thirds of the original committee, did not vote, citing unanswered questions about the IMG proposal. Their lingering questions didn’t stop WVU from notifying IMG it had been selected later that same day. Nor did it prevent Griffith from telling The Dominion Post in February that the vote for IMG was unanimous. (The newspaper followed up with Griffith, who explained in Thursday’s edition “I guess I just misspoke.”)

That came three days after state attorney general Patrick Morrisey concluded his in-house review and recommended WVU rebid its third-tier rights, a package for which IMG College reportedly was willing to pay up to $110 million with incentives. IMG’s bid, along with eight competing proposals, has yet to be made public.

This embarrassing episode reveals how Luck’s ambition overstepped protocol, a forbidding flaw for an administrator at public university.

We’ll see how similar the deals appear upon rebidding, or if the second round of bidding transpires at all. There could be room for further legal challenges to the first bidding period, considering how the shortcomings were perpetuated on WVU’s behalf by Luck, and by Payne’s conflict of interest.

Luck’s blatant breaches were stunning for someone with a pedigree of Rhodes scholar finalist, attorney, general manager of NFL Europe. Commend his part in steering WVU toward the Big 12. Laud his vision for upgrading WVU’s facilities through fundraising initiatives. But this embarrassing episode reveals how his ambition overstepped protocol, a forbidding flaw for an administrator at a public university.

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Comments

  • Greg

    How do Allan Taylor and Mickey Furfari sleep at night knowing that the owner of this website can so easily manipulate them into this type of hack journalism? Maybe one of these days they'll become their own man and stand up to him. Time's ticking off the clock for Mickey quickly but there's still time for Allan.

    • DWM

      The article just follows the chain of facts that led us to this point and makes the obvious conclusion that Luck may not be the smartest person in the room, like he thinks he is. In your attempt to attack Big John you are reaching for something that is not there. Either question the facts or agree that Luck screwed up.

    • Allan Taylor

      Greg, in refuting a popular perception from the comments on these stories, Raese has never once directed me toward the tone or content of any story. I couldn't stomach being a PR mouthpiece. Not that you'll believe a "hack," but hey, I just wanted to correct that misconception.

  • FungoJoe

    And Drew Payne gets off scott free??? Clements should have demanded he turn in his resignation to Gov. ERT immediately. Payne and Luck may well have committed some crimes here and this is all that will happen??? These guys steal millions of $$$ and nothing happens, yet a guy walks into the 7-11, put his hand in his pocket to rob the clerk of $50 and he gets 30 years in the slammer. WV and WVU politics at work.

    • Mr.Man

      Libel anyone?

    • Hop'sHip

      Evidence? Aw, right, this is Fungo. Never mind.

      • Darren

        Funny, I call out Raese's position as self serving, and it gets modeated

    • Darren

      How about the crime (I know, not a cime, but likely a dereliction of duty) of previously handing the media rights over to Rease without a bidding process. How much money did WVU miss out on by not competetively bidding before. Face it everyone, Raese was upset he lost the bid.

  • Bob Melphis

    Raese has his hate propagandist at it again.

  • Joe

    Since the "unnamed' gentleman was 100% correct on all of his concerns, it seems he would earn some respect from you folks. I guess if you are successful AND correct, its twice as bad...what gives? I have yet to see anyone congratulating or thanking Mr. Raese for doing what was right for our University and our State.

  • Habib Haddad

    Singing: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

  • Jim

    Reality is that I can't blame AT for his biased journalism because he knows who signs his paycheck. Like another poster said, wonder if the tone will change if WVR wins the 3rd Tier Rights? Bet it will!!!

  • chad

    You're crazy to think Luck will have "no role" in the next bidding process. That's like saying a mob boss in jail no longer runs his family. And I am fine with that. John Raese needs to go away and take Allan Taylor with him. Luck had a great deal in place for WVU (regardless of how it went down).

  • Hop'sHip

    I may be wrong here but didn't the WV Radio Corp commit itself to refraining to be part of any rebidding process? I thought I remember reading that in one of the letters in the paper from the man who must go unnamed. (Or otherwise your comment will have to await moderation)

    • Alum

      You read it more than once. We'll see if JR keeps his word.

      • Hop'sHip

        I'm sure Mr. Taylor would call him out if JR would be so brazen.

    • Jim

      Funny, I tried posting something naming JR in it and it is awaiting moderation. Wow, what happened to the freedom of speech that you news reporters are always clamoring for?

      • Greg

        Me too on many occasions with the same result. You are spot on.

      • cutty77

        JIm every time i post something,they do they same thing to me. They know what I'm saying right,and they don't want to hear it or see it. LOL

    • Big John

      You will see them bidding for the rights and then cry when they once again are passed over because of their low bid.

  • Roger

    It would appear that Dr. Clements is providing the medicine necessary for WVU to regain the reputation we all want to see in our university. Thank you, Dr. Clements. I'm not confident that some of the previous administrations would be so strong and courageous.

  • tony

    i agree that the rhetoric goes way over the line on this one

    • tony

      i also like the picture you chose..its quite evident where you are coming from ..but did you have to run a picture like that?

  • THE MEB

    More than anything, the first thing that I thought of was the irony of it all. That is, if the decisions made would not have affected the second most powerful entity in Morgantown (John Raese), the first being WVU, then this deal would have sailed through without none being the wiser. Think about it, do you think WVU would have even batted an eye if I, or any other Joe Schmoe, would have filed the same complaint? It just goes to show how power begats the ability to get things done that others can't. Sort of reminds me how a developer with lots of power was able to get some major land deal that even Walmart wasn't able to get.

  • Pat

    It's a shame for all of this to fall on one man. However, in this instance, I see the reasoning but am certain there are more to blame than just this one man. Sorry folks, but I must salute Mr. Luck and his willingness to take the bullet for everyone on this. This is not the fault of one, but many... Is it cause for termination? Yes, but not likely since obviously there are more irons in the fire than the one being pointed out. I will say this, another misstep by our current Athletic Director will result in termination. It grieves me to admit this though. I love and support Mr. Clements and Mr. Luck but this is sort of disappointing...

    • jr

      I think that Mr. Luck is one of the worse things that has ever happened to WVU..!

      • Jim

        Proof that there is an idiot in every crowd. jr, look in the mirror and you will see what I mean.

      • Jim

        Also, scroll up to AT's pic to see another idiotic Raese puppet.

      • Big John

        Oliver Luck is the best thing to happen to WVU. If not for him we would not be in the Big 12 but in the Big East. We would not have our baseball program upgraded. We would be making at least 5 times less in the Big East. We are here because of Oliver Luck.

    • Alum

      I agree Pat and I don't think Allan's commentary equates well with what the AG stated. Perhaps this commentary is a journalistic misstep; nah, it's an OpEd so it's okay.

      • Stan

        Yeah, this piece is mostly an attempt at character degradation disguised as an OpEd. It's pretty disgraceful for a "journalist."

  • Pruntytown

    Allan, relax and take a breath. Big John won this round, but it is a given WV Radio will lose the fight. If you want to keep access to WVU after the "new" bid still goes Ollie's way, you may want to tone down the rhetoric.

  • jfk

    A bit harsh toward Ollie using words like blatant & disregard. The funny thing is what if JR and metro news gets the bid will the harshness go away? or a certain metro news writer go to work for WVI lol. One could conclude that WV media is a done deal since they are airing the spring game we will see. On a side note it doesn't matter to me who gets it, metro news has done a great job with WV sports for years.

  • Tinch

    First step towards Exit Stage Left.

    • WILLIAM

      OLIVER '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!

      • Mr.Man

        Thank you, Marshall fan, for your comment.

      • Stan

        Did you see the tif passed? Hahaha. Now you can stop ranting crazy on here with your caps lock pressed.

      • Darren

        Luck has positioned WVU for future athletic success better than any AD since the stat of the Nehlen era.

        • Mark

          HaHa

        • David Elswick

          Why hasn't Luck ordered Dana to use a slower tempo offense so WVU's defense is not back on the field within 2 minutes? And to reduce the number of scoring opportunities our opponents have. Baylor was embarrassing. But Dana did the same thing against OK ST - WVu was ahead but ran a up tempo offense which gave the ball back to OK ST and gave them an opp to win the game.

      • wvcouch

        Not very business savvy are you

      • Darby

        I am a life-long WVU fan and current WVU student and it is an absolute fact that Luck has destroyed the integrity of our program. I agree that we had to leave the Big East and the Big 12 was most certainly the best available option. However, Luck has not been able to see what he has been doing with his cut-throat, backstabbing, corrupt ways of dealing because of the dollar signs in his eyes. By the way great hire of that little midget drunk, 17-9 after two years...wait isn't that worse than Bill Stewart was 18-8 (19 with Fiesta Bowl win). You don't have to be a Marshall fan to believe these things, just an idiot not to be able to see Luck for what he is a money-grubbing @!#$%

    • wvcouch

      not even close