THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Tony Caridi, a 25-year veteran of WVU sportscasting and the play-by-play voice of the Mountaineers since 1997, offered an update Thursday night regarding his future status under the school’s new media partnership with IMG College. While hosting MetroNews “Statewide Sportsline” hours after the media contract was announced, Caridi said:

“Oliver (Luck) and I have spoken on a couple of occasions. He has expressed his interest in me continuing my role with the Mountaineers Sports Network, and I’ve told him that I’d like to continue my role. And right now the details aren’t finalized, and that’s where it is. He said I’d love to have you, and I said I’d love to do it, but right now the details have not been finalized.”

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University announced a third-tier media rights contract with IMG College on Thursday, the same firm the athletics department selected last December before ethical irregularities forced the school to rebid.

The 12-year agreement is worth more than $80 million, the university stated, and becomes effective for the 2013-14 academic year that begins in August.

The contract covers television rights for one nonconference football game and several men’s and women’s basketball games not selected by national networks, radio broadcast rights and coaches’ shows. It also includes online rights and various advertising opportunities including signage and sponsorships at all WVU athletics facilities.

“It was time for WVU athletics to grow our multimedia and sponsorship sales, especially with our recent move to the Big 12 Conference,” said athletics director Oliver Luck, who was not allowed to participate in the rebidding evaluation.

President Jim Clements removed Luck—and revamped the entire evaluation committee—after Luck improperly shared confidential bid information with WVU board of governors chairman Drew Payne, who sits on the board at West Virginia Media Holdings, which partnered with IMG College on its first bid.

Under the new agreement, West Virginia Media Holdings will continue to partner with IMG College for television productions.

West Virginia Radio Corp., the parent company of MetroNews, filed a lawsuit June 19 alleging Luck, Payne and West Virginia Media Holdings president Bray Cary colluded to rig the bidding. WVRC’s pending lawsuit names 10 defendants in all, including Clements, and requests that IMG College and West Virginia Media Holdings be barred from the third-tier rights bidding.

State attorney general Patrick Morrisey—citing “significant errors and sloppiness” by Luck—recommended WVU rebid its third-tier rights, a package for which IMG College reportedly offered up to $110 million with incentives. That figure was never verified, nor were any of the eight competing proposals, as the school declined to make those bids public.

“With the resources, services and proven track record that IMG College brings, WVU now has the opportunity to expand its revenue base by engaging new national sponsors while building our athletic and university brand,” Luck said.

There remains no announcement on IMG’s plan regarding on-air talent. Play-by-play announcer Tony Caridi, part of Mountaineers sports broadcasts since 1987 and host of WVRC’s Statewide “SportsLine” each weeknight, has not been renewed. It appears certain IMG will modify the pregame and postgame football radio lineup that included Hoppy Kercheval, Fred Persinger, Kyle Wiggs and Jeff Jenkins.

IMG currently claims contracts with more than 90 schools nationwide, including Big 12 members Texas, Kansas, Baylor and TCU.

“West Virginia is one of last major schools to handle multimedia and sponsorship sales in-house,” said IMG College president Ben Sutton. “The university’s decision to entrust IMG to grow its sponsor and revenue base while building the school brand continues to validate IMG’s collegiate services and burgeoning national marketing platform.”

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  • JL

    How did WVU lose $3 million a year? That is absurd and they would not have cut this deal. That was Drew Payne shooting off his lying mouth. This is the deal that was on the table except that WVU retained banking, healthcare and cell phone. The "$5 million" more a year was a big mouth letting people know he was on the inside. Payne and Cary should sell one of their TV stations and pay the Foundation back the $5,000,000 they stole.

  • JL

    Can someone answer this: What was the "sweetheart" deal that WVRC had with WVU?

    • NotFooled

      West Virginia Radio pays MSN and WVU no money for the rights.

      "It's definitely a huge missed revenue opportunity that could account for anywhere between 10 to 20 percent of the total sponsorship revenue for a school, depending on the popularity of the radio network," said Dan Kozlak, manager of analytics at Navigate Research.

      A national firm specializing in conducting research, measurement and analysis of sponsorships in sports and entertainment, Navigate Research estimated the annual value of the broadcast fees to WVU would be between $300,000 and $400,000.

      • JL

        Yeah - That's the Oliver Luck line that Casazza has been writing all through this. He missed one big giant fact - WVRC did not have the rights. Some of their stations were MSN affiliates, like any other MSN affiliate, and had the same deal EXCEPT they also provided satellite time, personnel and advertising promotion for free to the University. They have also paid WVU more than $1,000,000 in the past ten years under advertising and coach agreements. Get your facts straight before you talk the company line BS.

      • Allan Taylor

        NotFooled: You omitted my counterpoint to that zero rights fees story, in which the same consultant basically hears the full scope of the deal and says, "Oh, my bad." ...

    • Wilson

      There was no sweetheart deal. WVRC radio stations had exactly the same deal as every other MSN radio affiliate. They were able to carry the games just like every else. WVU has always held the 3rd tier rights themselves. Last year MSN generated 6+ million they sold control for 6.6 mill per year. Hope it was worth it....

      • Grant

        The $6.6 mil is pure profit vs the expense of keeping it in house

        • Big Dawg

          Pure profit? That would assume no revenue was brought in by MSN, which is certainly not the case. Also, WV Radio never owned the University's media rights. WVU owned the media rights via MSN. That's why you heard WVU Football and Basketball on non WV Radio owned stations like 93.7 The Fan, Pittsburgh.

        • Wilson

          better check your sources on that one. There are some expenses incurred by the university.

  • Chester

    So some guys got caught with their fingers in the pie...what's the big deal? Everyone does it

    • Luke

      Everyone doesn't do it. The reputation of WVU has been severely damaged by this mess and this contract will be a constant reminder of that for the next 12 years.

  • Charleston,WV

    RIP Sportsline, TC, FP, KW, The Coach GH? I would hate to see them leave the radio broadcasting of WVU sports.

    • Slippery Pete

      Sportsline has nothing to do with this deal.

  • mark

    Keep Tony, Hoppy and the gang. They are "ours", and besides that, are excellent at what they do.

  • Spoon

    If you only knew

  • wvinsc

    I hope most people will be happy on game day when the radio broadcast will start at kickoff and the postgame show will last 15 minutes like most IMG broadcast I listen to down here in the south.

    • WVU 74

      You're so right about that !! Its nice to sit at a Georgia Bulldog home football game in Athens, GA with your Ipad or Iphone streaming another UGA sports event taking place elsewhere in the SEC.

      Ever try going "no audio" on the IMG Webcasts? You really don't miss it.

  • Cheat Lake

    The German is correct. I am not serious.

  • Fred

    Luck and Payne hurt the university by their unethical behavior. Why do you continue to want to kill the messenger?

    • Morgantown

      Oliver Luck has done more for WVU in the few years that he has been here than Ed Pastilong did in all his time at WVU.

      • Pudge

        Agreed. Some may not (and obviously don't) like it, but you can either think big or thing Big East. Cincy wishes they had somebody like Luck.

      • Shadow

        In what direction?

    • Big John

      Maybe the messenger had a hidden agenda=like getting something for nothing whem WVU could of received more$$$$

    • Wilson

      of course he had an interest, but when he said WVRC would not bid (which they had every right to do) that pretty much ended the 'sore loser' concept. It might be beyond your comprehension and many that post here, but there are people in this state who care about honesty and integrity and the reputation of our university. for the life of me I can't figure out how you and others gloss over the fact that OL, Drew Payne and others rigged the bidding process the first time so that their preferred bidder could get the contract. Does honesty and integrity not matter to you? Most people don't like matter who they are or where they work. Even if they are the AD at their own university. I do care....and I'm glad JR does too and is willing to spend his own money to make sure the integrity of our unviersity is in tact.

      • Big John

        They did not rig the bidding process-How much money would WVU receive had the two people removed from the panel would have done. Need to check furthur if J.R. will be in trouble because his soon to be employees will have a suit against him ffor filing the lawsuit. If J R had not caused such problem then IMG would have used his stragetical placed radio station and he would have made some money but not as much as before.

        • Wilson

          Big John,

          Have you read the lawsuit? How else can you explain, the following; 1. not enough votes to get approval so Luck adds additional committee members to get the votes for their preferred bidder. 2. Forwarding the other bids to Payne, the major stockholder in their preferred bidder's partner. 3. They hire a consulting firm that was formed only one month earlier to assist in the bid process. Come on Big John, even you can't be that blind

        • Debra

          My understanding is that OL and WVU didn't have to bid. Could have saved everyone a lot of hassle if they hadn't.

          • Shadow

            If that is true, the rules should be rewritten for WVU as it is a government institution. Nepotism or its equivalent, OL friends, should not be allowed.

      • Big John

        Are you a worker or supervisor for one of JR companies?

  • Big John

    Don Nehlen would be a excellent Color broadcaster and he lives close by

    • Wilson

      Nehlen lives in Fla. most of the time.

    • Cheat Lake

      But he is not an Indian like Sam Huff.

    • BH

      People seriously think Sam Huff and Coach Nehlen would be good replacements for Tony Caridi and Co.? Good grief.

  • Allan Taylor

    One note to ponder guys before you begin lamenting lost money—the $110 million figure leaked previously was never verified. And one source I spoke with thought that figure to be grossly exaggerated at the time.

    • Allan Taylor

      Based on the second round of bidding's detailed RFP—clearly a nod to inventory WVU and IMG College had agreed upon the first time—it's likely IMG simply resubmitted the exact same bid a second time. And for that reason, it looks as though other competitors didn't bother to waste time rebidding.

      • Alum

        Or, as in the case of your boss, stated so....

        But then resorted to other tactics going forward (sorry if this is too profane or uncivil to post like talking about agencies, engineering corps, golf courses and the like)

        • Greg

          The golf course thing is definitely off limits on this site. I was reprimanded via email last night by Allan Taylor for bringing it up. He said my reference to it was irrelevant to this matter. I say it establishes a pattern of behavior by the owner of this website and is completely relevant. But since freedom of speech is apparently just a fond memory of the freedoms we Americans used to enjoy, censorship prevailed and my post was taken down. I'm sure this one will be soon.

          • Allan Taylor

            @Greg: Your opinions on Pikewood Golf, the EPA and anchored putters would be welcomed ... if the third-tier media rights story had ANYTHING to do with golf. But alas, your concept of relevancy is tenuous. And as your email conceded, your distrust of Raese has more to do with his bank account than his ideology. (By the way, I'm in the 99 percent with you; not the 1 percent with him.) Finally, if you think freedom of speech affords you the right to spout vitriol on news websites, you're misapplying the principle.

    • Greg

      Was that source JR or Mickey Furfari?

      • Greg

        This comment is directed to Allan Taylor.

        • JL

          That is just dumb. How would anything that has been done create a $30 million loss on the bid?

          • John

            Maybe IMG knew the other bidders numbers from the first go and realized they could win for far less.

      • Allan Taylor

        Good one, Gregory. The source came from campus, and it wasn't from the Tri-Lambda house.

        • Big John

          Was it from the Associate Athletic Director?

          • Wilson

            Trust me...the only honest one of the bunch isn't going to leak anything. He is too honest and ethical for this group......they will try to get rid of him....wait and see.

    • Oh Did Ya?

      You are absolutely correct. I'm told from very reliable sources that this is the same deal.

    • Greg

      Was your source JR or Mickey Furfari?

    • Guardian

      The original bids were seen - and the $110 million was an exaggeration - a bit of blustering by the gentlemen on the board of governors. I cannot, nor will not comment further on this. Believe me or not, it does not matter to me. But I hope you can appreciate the reasons I cannot make further comment.

      • Pruntytown

        Oh Guardian, please don't leave us. I need to drink of your Kool-Aid, oh wise and benevelent one.

    • Slippery Pete

      Do you also believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the easter bunny?

    • Shadow

      One comment said that the $80 million was guaranteed. Was that a bonded figure? I doubt it!

  • Joe

    If any $$ are lost, the blame should be placed where it belongs, squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Luck and Mr. Payne. Had they ran the bid process ethically and correctly the first time this entire debacle could have been prevented.

    • Cheat Lake

      Don't bring race into this. What does have Redskin have to do with media rights?

    • mntrbob

      Why do you think he left? Do you think age could have played a role?

    • BH

      Keep Mr. Caridi and Coach Hunter! Not a huge fan of Hoppy's- although I very much enjoyed the years when he and Don Marsh, the Gazette Editor, would co-host Talk Line.

  • derek

    If we lose Tony Caridi as play by play its the last straw as a fan. luck and Co. have overburdened the fans with his greed. TC is more WVU than Country Rds. They need to work this out.

    • 1smartone

      That is just foolish to say. EVERYONE is replaceable. If you let that change your allegiance to the Mountaineers??? Goodbye! I hear Pitt runs a great athletic department.

      • derek

        True blue and gold bud just not to money baggers your problably bandwagon fan anyway.

        • Rugger

          That would be the Old Gold and Blue......Let's Go Mountaineers!!!

      • JS

        Yeah, and Pitt season tix are REAL cheap too.

    • Charleston,WV

      He is a de facto West "BY GOD" Virginian and I'll leave it at that point.

      • Mark

        Tony has been here for almost 30 years. I don't care where he went to school.

    • Concerned

      I for one am not concerned about Tony. Never was a huge fan. Didn't dislike him either. Either way, he was not Jack.

      • rd74

        There was no sweetheart deal. WV Radio had the same deal as the other network stations. MSN retained all the rignts. WV Radio provided all the talent, the equipment, the production, the distribution, all technical aspects of the broadcasts, paid the coaches for their shows, and WVU paid nothing for this service. And Tony never showed anything but utmost respect for Jack.

      • Wilson

        Not only did Tony ALWAYS show tremendous respect for Jack Fleming, he (Tony) insisted on being called West Virginia Univeristy play-by-play man instead of the "Voice of the Mountaineers" because he has always insisted that Jack Fleming was the Voice of the Mountaineers. rd74, you are 100% corrrect, there has never been a 'sweetheart deal' again that was smoke and mirrors to cover the unethical actions of OL and Drew Payne.

      • Jonathan in Eglon

        No he is not Jack and no one else ever will be. just like no one else will ever be TC.

    • Jonathan in Eglon

      I have listened to Tony Caridi for the entire 25 years he has been broadcasting and it was years before I even knew that he went to school at Syracuse. If you ever actually listen to one of his broadcasts you would know that to him being a part of WVU broadcasting is much more to him than just a job. He is a TRUE Mountaineer regardless of where he was born or went to college. By the way since Syacuse produces many so broadcasting vocal talents, your likely replacement could also well be from Syracuse.

  • 1smartone

    Guys...I am not taking up for JR. Read the article. 80 million is guaranteed. The number in the first bid (110 million) wasn't ALL guaranteed. Now WVU is retain rights to certain things (mentioned in the article). One would only assume those will make up the difference.

    • 1smartone

      My is in the official press release.

    • 1smartone

      If it doesn' wasn't guaranteed the first time either. So that wouldn't have mattered.

    • wvrefugee

      Heck no! No Raese supporter here BUT Luck screwed this thing up from the get go!!!!! He's a HACK!

  • Jamie in Nitro

    I certainly hope they find some way to partner with the existing media personalities. I doubt that Hoppy will be allowed to participate, but it'll be difficult to find someone to replace Tony (Lord knows it was difficult for him to replace Jack Fleming).

    • Charleston,WV

      Agreed totally, 100%!

    • John weaver


    • Kevin

      They'll keep Tony,, I'm sure their not stupid,

      • Kevin

        Not Stupid is a terrible name and they are all named that?

    • Art in Ohio

      I hope they keep the complete crew. We have been lucky to have Hoppy and Tony representing our state and WVU sports.

      • Big John

        Hoppy will probally be riding into the sunset as he was a big supporter of J.R. and I believe that Tony will be the sole survivor as there is to much J,R, among the other troops.

        • Art in Ohio

          Hope your wrong....... But I hate to say that I believe your 80% correct. If we lose Hoppy I will not be a happy camper but will continue to be a WVU supporter. The people in charge have to keep Tony or expect major problems form alum.

          • Kevin

            His name isn't "wrong," it is Big John.

          • Hop'sHip

            Nobody reads scores like Hoppy.

    • Hop'sHip

      Maybe they can hire someone from India to do the games. He would probably work for a lot less than Tony and I'm sure he (or she) would eat less too, saving the University money. We could do like Maryland and refuse to provide any food. Let the announcers and writers shell out 10 bucks for their concession-stand hot dogs like the rest of us. We must make sure, though, we train that Indian annoucer not to yell goallll every time someone crosses the goal line.

    • Mike

      Since the entire crew is employed by WVRC they were in a very awkward position as all of this transpired. I hope that all can be part of the new programing. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the format presented by WVRC. Hopefully the new production can follow along the same lines. They say the greatest form of flattery is imitation.

    • Jonathan in Eglon

      NO TRUE Mountaneer fan would ever say that unless they were drunk! T.C. represents everything WVU and West Virginia is about! If he is not part of the new team (and hopefully others like Greg Hunter, Travis Jones, ect.) I doubt I will be listening to any WVU broadcasts.