CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The lawsuit filed by West Virginia Radio Corporation against the West Virginia University Board of Governors and several other parties over the bidding out of the university’s third-tier media rights will continue following a judge’s order.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Evans has rejected WVU’s motion for summary judgment. Evans said the defendants didn’t meet the requirements of such a motion.
“The court is of the opinion that, under these circumstances, with the verified allegations of fraud, collusion, civil conspiracy, and arbitrary and capricious conduct, issues of material fact exist on several important issues, one of which is whether WVU BOG possessed the unqualified right to cancel the RFP process,” Judge Evans wrote.
WVRC had asked Evans to stop WVU from implementing a 12-year contract with IMG College worth $86.5 million. The company claims the contract, signed in June after a second round of bidding, should be stricken because of fraudulent missteps by the university—and specifically athletics director Oliver Luck—during the first round of bidding.
WVRC’s suit charges Luck with “improperly, incompetently, and unlawfully managing the media rights RFP process.” WVRC claims the university subsequently tailored the second media rights bidding “to render WV Media’s partner, IMG College, the only qualified bidder, thereby transforming the RFP process into a sham.”
The judge’s latest order focuses on the second round of bidding on the third-tier contract. The judge said in denying the motion of summary judgment he was persuaded by case law:
“The process of managing and marketing the Third Tier Media rights by WVU BOG is of high public interest and importance. The public, and the bidders, fairly expect that the State officials administering the process will act with integrity and fairness,” Evans wrote. “Where it is alleged that this did not occur, the public interest in the fair administration of the process is not served by a law that allows WVU BOG merely to cancel the RFP and issue another, particularly, where, as here, it is alleged that the second RFP was “tailored” to meet the bid of IMG COLLEGE, LLC.”
Judge Evans denied West Virginia Radio’s motion in August for a temporary injunction but also denied the motions from 10 defendants to dismiss the lawsuit. The suit continues in the discovery stage. The trial date has been set for Dec. 2014.
(Allan Taylor contributed to this report)