MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Mike Parsons’ 34-year tenure within the West Virginia athletics department officially will end June 30, according to a settlement that follows the deputy AD being stripped of his duties last summer, a university source told MetroNews.
Parsons’ contentious relationship with WVU athletics director Oliver Luck became especially strained during the fall of 2012 when they clashed over bidding irregularities that surfaced during the initial awarding of third-tier media rights to IMG.
Neither was part of the evaluation panel when WVU was forced to re-bid and chose IMG a second time during the summer of 2013, by which point Luck had decided to remove Parsons from the department, a source said.
“(Parsons) had a lawyer who felt that he had a good case against the university arguing that he was unfairly relieved of his duties,” said a source who spoke to MetroNews on condition of anonymity.
Parsons declined to respond Tuesday to the source’s information, and Parson’s attorney Mike Carey also could not be reached.
WVU spokesman John Bolt referred questions about Parsons to sports information director Mike Fragale, who said, “We don’t have any comment at this time.”
Though Parsons remains on the athletics department staff directory, his office reportedly has been cleared.
“He was asked to go away,” the source said. “He’s no longer a member of the athletic department. Technically he’s working in the athletic department until June 30, but he’s gone.”
Under open records laws, MetroNews has requested details of Parsons’ settlement, which the source said guarantees the outgoing deputy AD an undetermined payment.
A 1977 WVU journalism graduate, Parsons became the Mountaineers’ sports information director in 1979 and advanced to assistant athletics director three years later. By 2003 he was promoted to his current role, in which he had managed the daily operation of the department, including oversight of employment contracts and sponsorships.
Parsons helped build the Mountaineer Sports Network, which handled the in-house broadcast rights of WVU sports before they were outsourced to IMG last summer.
State attorney general Patrick Morrisey said in April 2013 his office found “significant errors and sloppiness” in Luck’s handling of the initial bidding for the school’s third-tier media rights. Luck originally joined Parsons and associate athletic director of business operations Mike Szul in evaluating the first round of bidding. When those two had questions about Luck’s preference for selecting IMG, the WVU athletics director added three panel members mid-process.
Neither Parsons or Szul voted in December 2012 when Luck sought a same-day approval for IMG’s bid. Morrisey said the two original panelists “were not afforded a timely opportunity to formally vote in favor of the winning proposal.”
West Virginia Radio Corp., the parent company of MetroNews, previously provided a statewide network of affiliates for WVU radio broadcasts of football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball—an agreement that ended with the outsourcing of third-tier rights to IMG. WVRC has litigation pending against Luck, IMG and various WVU administrators involved with the first round of bidding the attorney general nixed.