Metronews’ Allan Taylor reports that WVU and long-time Deputy Director of Athletics Mike Parsons are parting company, and it’s not an amicable separation.

Neither side is saying anything, but sources tell Metronews that Athletic Director Oliver Luck stripped Parsons of his responsibilities.  Parsons hired a lawyer and considered suing the University, but instead agreed to a settlement.

Apparently Parsons will be paid through June 30th.

Before you read more you need to know that I have a serious conflict of interest here.  Parsons and I have been friends for 35 years.  As executive producer of the now defunct Mountaineer Sports Network, he was my supervisor.

Additionally, our company is in a legal fight with the University over how the third tier media rights were allocated.

So stop here if you like, or read on for my perspective.  Your choice.

I often hear WVU leaders talk about service, the concept that life’s purpose is greater than the individual’s immediate desires.  That mission makes the University an engine for good.

For more than three decades, Mike Parsons made thousands of decisions, and I believe he always made the best interest of the University his top priority.  The temptations of selfishness and ego were supplanted by his rock solid allegiance to the Gold and Blue.

His tenure was marked by integrity, professionalism and dedication. His nights and weekends were spent at WVU sporting events, hundreds of them, helping make sure they ran smoothly.   Glad-handing was never his strong suit, and that cost him with some moneyed alums whose avocations include meddling in athletic department affairs.

Eventually, he ran afoul of Luck on the media rights issue.  His candid testimony about how the first bid process was mismanaged contributed to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s decision to order a do-over.

So doing the right thing means finding yourself squeezed out with, yes, a sizable check, but also a damaged reputation.  Is that the new order of the state’s flagship institution?  I always wanted to believe that WVU was better than that.

Parsons will land a job somewhere in athletics.  His credentials are strong enough to withstand WVU’s ham-handed treatment.  The larger question, however, is what about the reputation of WVU’s athletic department?

 

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Comments

  • Hop'sHip

    Well Hoppy warned us it would be a self-serving commentary and he delivered. Have some sour grapes with your coffee.

    • Involved

      Somehow or another Booth Goodwin will become involved in this.

      • Pickle Barrel

        Nope, out of his jurisdiction.

    • BH

      I've enjoyed listening to WVU football/basketball radio broadcasts since the mid 70's. ( RIP Jack Fleming). However, the current IMG radio "network" is a joke.

    • Mike

      MSN is gone. Parsons is gone. But we still have Hoppy doing Mountaineer games...uh, oh yea, Hoppy's gone too.

  • Wowbaggers

    Hoppy,

    What amazes me is all posters who condemn the evils of big business can't see that WVU is now just another big business! The only difference is that this big business is tax exempt and less responsible than most other big businesses.

    To all of those faithful Mountaineers: I have a 70s era degree from WVU and am close enough to pay attention. This WVU it is not the same institution you remember. The changes have not been good ones.

    • Pruntytown

      Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season...

      Yes, times they are a changin...

      • Wowbagger

        duh...

        That's the point, don't let past experiences and fond memories color your opinion.

        • Pruntytown

          Sorry for agreeing with you. It will not happen again.

    • J the C

      I have two "70s era degrees", so what? Change, good or bad, is as inevitable as the tides. Embrace it or be trampled by it. My '69 Catalina is dust, some of my classmates are deceased and I wouldn't even consider doing most of the things I did back then. Move on !

  • thornton

    I'm pretty sure that rain will not hurt rhubarb.

    • WV

      Horse manure in the fall is best for rhubarb.
      Everything in its season.

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy,

    I though you guys @WVRC had "moved on"?

    I mean you're "doing your own thing. Whatever WVU does is their thing. We are doing our thing."

    Parsons being out was the final link to the old GOB 1.0 crew that cost WVU $$$$$ over years & years and benefitted others in the broadcast business.

    The guy gets golden parachute, a retirement, and full benefits and honestly he'll be fine. I got no sympathy for the guy. I got more sympathy for the 50+ working stiffs at Freedom Industries who are out and get 6 month unemployment at half pay and nothing else.

    All I got
    I'm Jim N NY

    • TD

      have to give a +1, the university lost out on millions of dollars while WVRC was handling the broadcast rights. Given that Mr. Parsons was so closely aligned with WVRC, any working relationship with OL would have been strained from that point forward.

      • JC Smith

        Again, let's look at the facts. Last year MSN billed somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 million. This year, IMG paid WVU 4 million. hmmmmm

        • mike compotin

          what is the cost of the 6 million in billings compared to the payment of 4 million?

          • Lawtalk

            WVU/MSN had very few expenses because WVRC produced and distributed MSN at $0 cost to WVU.

    • The bookman

      It remains to be seen how much WVU lost, if any, over the agreement. But I don't get your support for the workers at Freedom. Are they not ultimately responsible for the safety of the site? Do you assume they were mindless robots meandering the grounds of the tank farm oblivious to their surroundings? Let's pin the blame on the guy who owned the operation for nine days instead of the people who were there everyday. And you are a member of Mensa? Unbelievable!

      • Jason412

        Bookman,

        Was it not you who said the workers were probably oblivious to the leak because they were used to smelling chemicals and wouldn't have noticed the odor of leaking MCHM?

        • The bookman

          Being accustomed to smelling the odor could explain why they weren't alerted at that moment, but all indications so far point to a pattern of lax maintenance, and a general lack of safety management on site. It amazes me that in the event of any crisis, the first thing most people want to do is hang the cause on one person, and that person is usually far removed from the right one. The moneyed interest at Freedom sure do make great scapegoats, but the root cause of this accident was most likely due to an accumulation of errors over time. Poor routine maintenance and safety management with a complete failure in preparing for a catastrophic breach of the tanks led to this crisis, and I for one would not give the pass the on site workers at Freedom. An organization is only as good as the sum of its parts, and that includes everyone at Freedom, not just the CEO.

          • Jason412

            I get what you're saying, but as a businessman I'm sure you understand that what employees do usually reflects greater on the overall business more so then the individual employee.

            I also have to say it's a bit misleading to say Gary Southern owned Freedom for 9 days. It is true he only owned it in it's current state for 9 days, after the mergers or whatever it was. But he was a founder of Freedom and had owned that particular facility since 1992.

            I'm completely in agreement the workers share some of the blame as far as not notifying anyone of the leak. But Gary Southern knew the tank needed repairs, and didn't pay to have the repairs done. It's not like your average Joe employee is going to invest the $1 million needed for repairs, so what else could they do? Doesn't matter how hard of a worker or good employee you are if you don't have the money/material to do your job.

            As far as the lack of maintenance and safety that responsibility to would be on Southern to an extent. If you have employees not doing their job, you fire them and get new ones. Even if not involved in the day to day, what employees do over an extended period of time ultimately falls on the CEO.


            There's plenty of blame to go around, but I would say most of it is rightfully placed on Southern.

          • The bookman

            Jason:

            Notice that I place blame squarely on Freedom and the totality of its parts. I don't exclude Southern, as I exclude no one affiliated. It was a shoddy facility with little regard for safeguarding the water supply, and as you said, plenty of blame to go around. Jim N Charleston, an absentee resident of this crisis who spends most of his time on the lam, was waxing eloquent about these poor employees getting the shaft and inserting the water crisis, a subject he disdains discussing, into a commentary on Parsons leaving WVU. We can elaborate tomorrow or the next day on this when Hoppy writes about it again, raising the ire of Jim N Charleston again about talking about the water crisis. Nonsense!

      • WV Guru

        In WV, good workers are hard to find. The good one left or on the way out.

    • Big John

      How much is it costing WVU-Six years of salary-health benefits, IRA?

  • stophating

    To summarize:

    Parsons = hard dedicated worker, did best thing possible things for WVU... Did not bend over backwards to kiss the derrière of wealthy donors.

    I guess this shows the real direction of the university--catering to wealthy benefactors, at the expense of students, tax payers, and fans.

    • WVUFAN

      Exactly!

    • Aaron

      As both a student and the father of a student, I'm not sure how students are suffering at the expense of wealthy benefactors. Would you care to elaborate?

    • cutty77

      Parsons bent over for WCRC. I said this yesterday,that he would be working at WVRC today,and as you can see that is whats happening. So what Oliver has done,needed to be done. Everybody feels sorry for poor pitful Parsons. He will be at the Food Kitchen next week.

  • William

    Is all over MONEY and GREED!
    The fans and sport are the one that get hurt the most.
    Its all about money, so sad!

  • Rick S.

    I have known Mike Parsons for twenty years through my work with collegiate and professional athletics. During those twenty years, Mike has always been been friendly with me and has acted in a professional, respectful manner.

    I agree with Hoppy -- from my vantage point it always appeared that Mike made decisions that he believed were in the best interests of WVU. No, those decisions may not have always brought in the most money or involved the flashiest personnel, but they were the decisions that in the overall big picture he believed were best for WVU.

    Mike is yet another West Virginian, a true life-long Mountaineer who committed himself to our state and our university, who is being forced out.

    Whether you like Mike Parsons or not (and most of the commenters on here have probably never even met him or know anything about him), I would think anyone loyal to WVU should be at least a little saddened (and concerned) to see yet another loyal Mountaineer cast aside. I know I am.

    • cutty77

      I'm still upset about The Loyal Mountaineer people that worked for The Mac,and MSN that were run off by Eddie and Mike. What goes around,comes around.

      • Lawtalk

        Who cutty77, who are these people you continue to mention. You spout lies and untruths but never state facts, because your bs has none. As one other post stated 'put up or shut up'. Come with facts not lies

        • cutty77

          Well one Just took the AD Job Virginia Tech last Friday. Countless more. But this a Good start.

        • cutty77

          You know Whitt Babcock Einstien?

      • Big John

        I agree completely-Should have made a clean sweeep several years ago when Oliver came on board-Guess who is next to get the ax?

  • Medman

    There are many of us who supported the WVU athletic program for years by buying tickets and donating heavily to support the programs. Many of us are disenchanted with the current AD and the heavy handed way of doing business. In my opinion the image and trust level are at the lowest point that I can remember. There needs to be major changes in the WVU Athletic Department. I am convinced that all of this started with a BOG that was controlled by a handful of "good ole boys" who set the stage for all that has happened since.

    • WVUFAN

      This is exactly what has happened. It is a sad day for our beloved University and the state of West Virginia.

    • WV Grad

      Hire Gee!

  • ShinnstonGuy

    My level of interest in WVU from an athletics perspective has significantly waned in the last few years. Unlike the "fairweather fan," I see catastrophic decisions being made to the actual programs, regardless of whether they win or lose. The "extra practices" of RichRod seem pale in comparison to the bungles of the current leaders in Athletics. Personally, I have stopped traveling to away games, reduced my contributions to the MAC, and have actually considered giving up my football tickets and seldom make it to a basketball game. I think it is time to effectively say, "S.O.S.--Save Our School!"

    • GoEers

      What are some of the catastrophic decisions you see being made to the actual programs? Please elaborate.

    • Charles

      Parsons is one of the major reasons rich rod left. Which is why wvrc was so hard on rich after. Rich wanted to sell off the radio rights long before Oliver came back. Parsons was over msn and didn't want to give up control. Or in essence loose his job.

      • Lawtalk

        Rich Rod wanted to break NCAA rules and regulations. Thankfully Mike Parsons said NO. Thats why Rich left, plus it was Michigan .....a much bigger and more respected program. Can't say that I blame him for leaving. Just didn't like the way he went about it.

  • Wirerowe

    Opinion from very far away from the athletic program at WVU. I don't know Oliver Luck, Mike Parsons or Bill Stewart. But my impression. (1) Bill Stewart did not create the disastrous coach in waiting fiasco but he was destroyed by how he was let go (2) Mike Parsons did not create the disastrous bungled third tier rights bidding process but his career was destroyed for telling the truth.

    • Aaron

      As en employee of MSN, why was Parsons on the committee to begin with?

      • Wirerowe

        Valid point if that is the case. Who selected the committee. That had nothing to do with why Parsons was on the first committee and not on the second go around. Do you find emails between the AG and the then head of the BOG regarding one of those bidding on the contract acceptable? Aaron since we are so close that you feel compelled to respond to everyone of my posts, why don't you come over to the house for dinner this weekend.

        • rekterx

          People forget that MSN is owned by WVU. Always has been.

          For years WVU (Mike Parsons) managed MSN. Now WVU has contracted with IMG to manage MSN. Mike Parsons and WVRC, with whom Parson closely worked, do not like the change.

          But MSN has always belonged to WVU. The WVRC was built on the back of MSN and there was a long term and intimate relationship between MSN/WVU/Parsons and WVRC. That relationship was so close that most people thought that MSN and WVRC were one in the same. But MSN never belonged to WVRC. It has always belonged to WVU.

          • Aaron

            I'm sorry Rekterx but your statement is wrong. WVU never owned MSN.


            "West Virginia Radio Corporation operates the "West Virginia MetroNews" Network, which is owned by parent company Greer Industries. "West Virginia MetroNews" features on-the-hour news, political and sports talk programs. WVRC held the rights to West Virginia University Mountaineer sports, via the company's DBA name of "Mountaineer Sports Network" or "MSN", through the 2012-13 season. In July 2013 IMG College was awarded WVU's Tier 3 multimedia rights for 12 years, though WVRC is a plaintiff in an ongoing legal challenge to the contract."

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Virginia_Radio_Corporation

            So I ask again, was mike Parsons paid by both WVU and by WVRC, was there a conflict of interest?

            More importantly, as an executive producer for Mountaineer Sports Network why was he on the committee that was selecting WVU's third tier rights to begin with?

        • Aaron

          I'm busy. Tuesday works better for me.

          • WVUFAN

            Aaron,

            Sorry to inform you but you are 100% wrong. WV Radio has never owned the rights to WVU and has never owned any part of MSN. MSN has always been 100% owned and operated by West Virginia University. This has been widely known for years. WV Radio Corp was simply a vendor for WVU/MSN and produced and distributed the MSN broadcast on their satellite network. The only rights WV Radio Corp has ever owned were to the Coach's programs for which they paid WVU a rights fee. Never, Ever have WV Radio Corp owned the rights to MSN. Your information is flat wrong. Sorry

          • Aaron

            Then why, when you google Mountaineer Sports Network does it take you to a site that is not Mountaineer Sports Network? The new site is wvusports.com.

            Also, why does West Virginia Radio Corporation take credit for owning Mountaineer Sports Network?

          • Aaron

            I found my answer and I retract my statement that West Virginia Radio Corporation owned MSN network.

            They just paid for everything. So my question stands, did that include a salary for Mike Parsons who functioned as an executive producer for MSN?

          • WVUFAN

            Aaron,

            I'm pretty sure WVRC never paid Mike Parsons anything. He didn't work for WVRC. He was employed by WVU.

          • wirerowe

            Aaron that will work. You keep ignoring that the AD put Parsons on the review committee. If as you say Parsons had a conflict then putting him on the committee was about as inept a move as the coach in waiting.

          • Aaron

            I'm not ignoring anything. I'm just stating what I believe to be obvious. It seems to me that Mr. Parsons had as much of a conflict as Mr. Luck. As such he should have been removed from the decision-making process as well. Neither needed to be on the committee to understand that IMG's bid to WVU more money for the third tier right than any competitor.

            I cannot answer for Mr. Luck as to why he chose Mr. Parsons to be on the committee anymore then I can guess as to why he felt anybody needed to be on the committee. Has Ron stated they were selling their rights, they didn't have to put out a bid but Mr. Luck did. If you want to know why, my suggestion would be for you to ask him.

            You do not have to ask him about the coach in waiting decision though, as he said that was a mistake years ago. I agree, it was a mistake. Almost as big of a mistake as the one Ed Pastilong made in the wee hours following the victory over Oklahoma.

          • wirerowe

            Aaron I would agree that decisions made in the aftermath of the Oklahoma victory were not very well thought especially the length of the contract when there was very limited marketability of the coach. The success of all sports especially the major sports in Eddie's later years vaulted us to national prominence which. I think Eddie deserves a lot of credit for that. Then Rich went out and lost his mind and it has been a soap opera drama every since.

        • Ron "from Morgantown"

          Very funny . Aaron seems to be deliberative in his opinions and delivers point blank questions that are worthy of debate . I think Socrates would be proud of him . As far as a dinner guest - I don't know . Give pizza a chance.

        • WVUFAN

          Mike Parsons was on the committeed because he built MSN from the ground up. It makes perfect sense to have the one individual who knows the most about collegiate sports networks on your committee charged with selecting the new rights holder. Unfortunately OL couldn't 'force' Parsons to vote the way he and his good ole boys wanted....so he (OL) added more committee members mid bid......to get enought votes to let the bid to the "preferred" bidder.

          • Aaron

            Not if he is biased towards one of the bidders? How is that any less ethical than Mr. Luck's communications with WV BOG Andrew Payne? It seems to me that both should have disqualified themselves from the decision making process. Why do you not agree?

            Also, understand my point is not to denigrate Mr. Parsons. I understand he served WVU for many years and I am not questioning that service. I simply wondered if he were paid by two separate entities and if so, did that not create a conflict of interest.

            In researching the subject, I now wonder with his postion with MSN Sports Network and his relationship with West Virginia Radio Network, should he have not removed himself from the RFP process regarding the third tier rights?

            After all, what it boiled down to was how much money WVU could generate from those rights. In my reading, I scanned the bids from the initial RFP and correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t $71 million guaranteed beat $5.7 million guaranteed? I mean seriously, as the commercial goes, isn’t bigger better?

          • Lawtalk

            Aaron,

            Look closely at the bids. IMG was purchasing the controlling rights from WVU and the revenue. As I understand it, WVRC's bid allowed WVU to maintain control of the product AND maintain all the current revenue that MSN was already billing ($6+ million per year), plus the WVRC bid would let WVU keep 65% of any new revenue. $6million for over the 10 year contract is $60 million plus 65% of any new business. It's pretty easy to see how the WVRC bid could end up much better for WVU. They keep the money AND control....

          • Aaron

            If I'm not mistaken, didn't that 65% additional revenue come in after IMG's bid was revealed? Also, IMG was offering more guranteed business plus a % of additional revenue as well, correct?

            I know that's all water under the bridge but that's what I got from my research.

            I'm curious though lawtalk, do you have an opinion on Parsons removing himself from the decision making process for the same reason as AD Luck, a conflict of interest?

          • Ron "from Morgantown"

            And Oliver Luck has every right to do that , Parsons may have built MSN but he doesn't own it and futhermore he aint the AD , Luck is the AD . Also , it should be pointed out that according to the AG office WVU didn't even have to bid third tier because they were SELLING something not BUYING something .

          • Lawtalk

            Aaron,

            Actually the 65% was in WVRC's original bid. They (WVRC) offered the 65% from the very first dollar they brought in. IMG's "sharing" mechanism didn't kick in until they reached a certain benchmark. I believe that rev share benchmark in year one was $7 mllion and continued to go up each year. Safe to say, they (IMG) probably would have never met the benchmark, therefore they would not have to share any $$ with WVU. Best I can tell over the first 10-12 years the WVRC bid would actually have provided more $$ to WVU, assuming a small increase in rev.(3% or less) each year. On Parsons...I have heard that he initially didn't want to be involved in the bid process because of his MSN responsibilities. From all I can gather, he (Parsons) is a fine, upstanding gentleman who worked hard and did a good job.

  • Dave

    All I know is the radio coverage of WVU sports has deteriorated immensely. I have listened to far fewer radio broadcasts involving WVU sports since the changes.

    • GoEers

      IMG gave WV Radio the options to retain the broadcasts. They turned them down. With that being the case, IMG has to go out and find new stations. The good news is with all of WVU's football and basketball games being on national or regional tv, you shouldn't have to rely on radio as much.

      • Wilson 72

        Go Eers,

        Unfortunately, you are incorrect. According to the records, Wv radio corp. offered, under oath, to air wvu games from img so that the people of wv could hear the games ang both wvu and img declined. you have it backwards

        • cutty77

          Yea this why WVRC tryed to Sabatoge this years first game,and the judge threw it out. WVRC care nothing about WVU except for their Checks.

          • JL

            Your never cease to maze with your stupid comments and ideas Oliver.

          • Lawtalk

            Sabatoge the game? LOLOL What in God's name are you talking about? How idd WVRC try to sabatoge the game. Every time you post something it gets more hilarious.

            PS - it should be tried not tryed... :)

    • Aaron

      Wasn't West Virginia Radio Corporation affiliate stations offered rights to carry the games from IMG?

      • Ron "from Morgantown"

        Yes

      • Lawtalk

        NO. They were not. According to what was said in court, WVRC offered to carry the games and both IMG and WVU declined under oath.

        • HopeWVU

          Lawtalk---I believe you are wrong...the WVU & IMG denial to let WVRC carry games was after the second bid, the first go around IMG and WVU thought WVRC would carry games. That is why they were scrambling to find stations after all was said and done.

  • Ron "from Morgantown"

    105 comments on this subject were already posted when the news broke on this web page yesterday at approximately 3 pm . I encourage those who want to see the comments to go to the news section on this site and read them for yourselves.

  • Aaron

    Did Mr. Parsons draw a salary for his position as Executive Producer for MSN?

    • cutty77

      Plus drove a Nice White SUV with MSN-1 on the license plate.

  • Mtneer in Ohio

    Should have let this one go, giving an editorial on a friend when reporting should be unbiased is unflattering. The dismantling of MSN was going to happen and going with IMG was inevitable. Luck may have been sloppy with it, but is was the right move. It always felt like the " old boys club " under Pastilong and Parsons at WVU. Hoppy, at times you sound totally bitter over this IMG, WVRC situation when what we need is unbiased reporting. Please continue with what made you who you are without the listeners feeling as if the WVRC is dictating your message and Raese is moving your lips.

    • WVU 74

      This is Hoppy's column, message board, blog, call it what you will. Columnists do not work under the same set of restrictions as the so-called objective journalists.

      As such, HK has the right to express even shout his opinions.

  • Coalwiz

    Hop,

    You might be right.....or you might not be telling the whole story....or you may be grinding JR's ax for him......I don't know......but you really can't win by trying to add your two cents on this topic.

    He might have been a great boss for you, but that doesn't equate to him being a great employee for OL.