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UPDATE: Judge Denies Motions in WVU Media Rights Lawsuit

By: WSAZ News Staff, The Associated Press Email
By: WSAZ News Staff, The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 8/26/13 @ 2:55 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - A judge has denied several motions to dismiss West Virginia Radio Corp.'s lawsuit over how West Virginia University awarded a media rights contract for sporting events.

Judge Thomas Evans on Monday rejected requests by WVU Board of Governors, the WVU Foundation and other parties to dismiss the lawsuit in Monongalia County Circuit Court.

The motions were based on arguments that West Virginia Radio had failed to make a case for fraud and a violation of public procurement laws. Evans ruled these are important public policy matters and need to be heard.

The network wants Evans to stop WVU from finalizing a 12-year contract with North Carolina-based IMG College.

The judge also is hearing arguments on West Virginia Radio's motion to block the deal and reset the clock to June.



UPDATE 8/26/13
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia Radio Corp. is getting its day in court to complain about how West Virginia University awarded a media rights contract for sports events.

Judge Thomas Evans has scheduled a hearing on motions in the case for Monday morning in Morgantown.

The network wants him to stop WVU from finalizing a 12-year contract with North Carolina-based IMG College.

The network also wants the contract be rebid for a third time, with IMG College and subcontractor West Virginia Media Holdings disbarred from the process.

WVU had to rebid the first contract after the attorney general found significant errors in how that deal was crafted. IMG won the second round last month.

WVU's broadcasts were handled for decades by university-operated Mountaineer Sports Network. It works closely with West Virginia Radio.



UPDATE 8/5/13 @ 11:45 a.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - IMG College says longtime Mountaineer sports announcer Tony Caridi will continue calling the plays at West Virginia University football and basketball games.

IMG announced the agreement Monday. The North Carolina-based company recently won a contract for multimedia rights to certain WVU sports events.

Caridi will also host the coaches' shows on the new sports network, along with a television show that IMG says is in development.

The deal also allows Caridi to continue to appear on the "Northside Automotive Statewide Sportsline," a popular weeknight radio show.

IMG says it will announce additional commentators and reporters soon.

WVU is guaranteed to make $4.1 million in royalties in the first year of its new 12-year deal with IMG.

The 12-year agreement says IMG will pay at least $86.5 million through 2025.



UPDATE 7/25/13
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia University is guaranteed $4.1 million in royalties in the first year of its new 12-year deal with IMG College for multimedia coverage of certain athletic events.

North Carolina-based IMG will pay at least $86.5 million through 2025, and another $105 million over the next decade if the contract is renewed.

WVU also gets a $5 million signing bonus - $3 million of which will be paid by June 16, 2014.

WVU awarded the contract on its second try July 11.

It was forced to rebid the contract after a review by the state attorney general's office found "significant errors and sloppiness" in how the first deal was crafted.



UPDATE 7/11/13 @ 12:30 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia University has awarded an $80 million, 12-year contract for multimedia rights to certain athletic events to North Carolina-based IMG College.

That's the same company WVU had previously struck a deal with before it was forced to rebid the contract after a review by the state attorney general's office found "significant errors and sloppiness" in how that deal was crafted.

Two WVU Board of Governors members shouldn't have participated in reviewing the bids, but Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he found "no evidence of intentional wrongdoing."

WVU said Thursday the new partnership is effective this fall, for the 2013-14 school year.



UPDATE 6/13/13
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia Radio Corp. says it won't bid on a contract for multimedia rights to some West Virginia University athletic events. But it still wants the previous winner - North Carolina-based IMG College - disqualified.

WVU officials declined to comment on that demand Thursday.

WVU is rebidding the contract because a review by the state attorney general's office found "significant errors and sloppiness" in how a previous deal was crafted.

Five companies, including IMG and West Virginia Radio Corp., participated in a pre-bid conference call last month.

The Associated Press says the other companies were Nelligan Sports Marketing, Learfield Communications and FOX Run Group.

Proposals were due Wednesday. WVU will choose the best offer by Aug. 5 and announce the winner of the 12-year deal Aug. 23.



UPDATE 5/15/13
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia University says bidders for multimedia rights to certain athletic events have until June 18 to respond to a new request for proposals.

WVU announced last month it would rebid the contract after a review by the state attorney general's office found "significant errors and sloppiness" in how a previous deal was crafted.

This time, the process will be led by Chief Procurement Officer Brenda Mowen.

Two WVU Board of Governors members shouldn't have participated in reviewing the bids, but Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he found "no evidence of intentional wrongdoing."

Athletic Director Oliver Luck improperly provided confidential details of the proposed contract with North Carolina-based IMG College to board chairman Drew Payne before its public release.

Morrisey said Payne's subsequent comments on the deal were also improper.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/18/13 @ 12:37 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Documents show West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck kept Board of Governors Chairman Drew Payne well-informed as WVU brokered a now-discarded deal for media rights to some athletic events.

The Associated Press obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

They show the men discussed media rights as early as December 2011. Luck later gave Payne details of WVU's request for proposals before it went public. They also show the men comparing notes on a possible competitor to a company Payne had a financial interest in.

WVU previously said the board played no role in the contract talks.

WVU is rebidding the contract after Attorney General Patrick Morrisey discovered "significant errors and sloppiness" in the deal's crafting.

WVU reissued an earlier statement from Payne accepting Morrisey's findings.



UPDATE 4/18/13 @ 11:58 a.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia University purchasing officials will replace a committee that will rebid a contract for multimedia rights to certain athletic events.

WVU President Jim Clements says none of the six committee members that evaluated nine bids and made the final selection will be reappointed. Among them were WVU athletic director Oliver Luck and associate athletic director Mike Parsons.

On Monday, WVU said it would rebid the contract after a review by the state attorney general's office found "significant errors and sloppiness" in how the tentative licensing agreement with IMG College was crafted. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also said he found "no evidence of intentional wrongdoing."

Clements says "the goal is to get this process right" and that WVU will take the time needed to address deficiencies noted by Morrisey.



ORIGINAL STORY 4/15/13
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ/AP) -- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says West Virginia University should rebid a contract for multimedia rights to certain athletic events amid allegations of impropriety about how the deal was crafted.

WVU signed a tentative licensing agreement with Winston-Salem, N.C.-based IMG College in January.

The university later suspended talks after reports that two members of WVU's governing board had ties to a company angling to subcontract with IMG. The school said the board played no role in contract talks.

Morrisey said Monday at a news conference that there were significant errors and sloppiness by WVU. But he says there was no intent of wrongdoing.

“While our office found significant errors and sloppiness in the process warranting a rebid, we did not find any evidence of intentional wrongdoing or intentional interference that might be used to advance a pre-determined result.”

Morrisey’s suggestions come as part of a comprehensive and expedited review of the University’s handling of its multimedia rights. He and attorneys within the Office of the Attorney General reached those conclusions based upon several key findings:

1) The multimedia rights contract is revenue generating and not required to be placed through a competitive RFP process under either the West Virginia Code or the West Virginia University Procurement Rules.

2) Based upon the proposals and identified criteria, the record supports the University’s decision to invite IMG College to engage in negotiations for a contract.

3) The procurement process utilized in the evaluation and selection of proposals was flawed, incomplete, and/or not in accordance with the RFP or the University’s Procurement Rules, specifically:
a) All Evaluation Committee members were not afforded a timely opportunity to formally vote in favor of the winning proposal, resulting in two of the six members ultimately not voting.
b) The make-up of the Evaluation Committee was altered during the pendency of the evaluation process, and (when coupled with the lack of affirmative votes from two members) may have materially affected the outcome of the decision.
c) There was not strict adherence to the confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions of the RFP and University Rules.
d) There was a failure of the Procurement Office and/or the Consultant to properly document conversations with the proposers or potential proposers during the process.
e) The evaluation of the proposals did not conform to the RFP criteria, including specifically, the RFP Addendum requiring weighted scoring.
f) There is no reason to conclude that the University’s contracts with Rockbridge Sports Group violated procurement rules.

4) BOG Chairman Andrew Payne improperly received information about the process and instead should have recused himself from any and all participation in this matter.

5) BOG Member David Alvarez should have recused himself from any and all participation in the matter.

“Let me be clear, this review found no proof of intentional wrongdoing and no intentional interference in the process in order to derive a predetermined outcome,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “However, this report highlights areas where the University should take some specific steps in order to eliminate any appearance of improprieties.”

The review by the Attorney General’s Office determined that the facts and the record support the University’s decision to invite IMG College to engage in negotiations for a contract.

The report highlights several steps the University could take in order to improve the multimedia rights bidding process in the future. Those include reviewing and clarifying the steps the University takes in its procurement process relating to the competitive bidding of revenue-generating contracts; and better educating BOG members, officers and employees about recusal requirements and/or avoiding participation in matters in which he or she may have a potential financial interest. The report also encourages the University to keep prior bids it received confidential.

“My office understands that West Virginia University’s decision to out-source sponsorship and multimedia rights has a significant impact on the University and its many fans, supporters, and alumni in the state. Every taxpayer, as well, has a vested interest in this issue,” Morrisey said. “Our goal from the beginning has been to assess how the University handled the multimedia rights bidding process, determine if there were improprieties and, if necessary, ensure that errors were addressed. Regardless of who is unhappy with this report, our Office has done the right thing. We appreciate WVU’s cooperation in this matter and willingness to release this report.”

He says WVU President Jim Clements was briefed on the
decision Sunday.

Following the news conference, Director of Athletics Oliver Luck acknowledged his communication with WVU Board of Governors Chair Drew Payne was “inappropriate” and should not have occurred. “I concur with the Attorney General’s findings that these communications were improper, but agree they did not impact the evaluation or selection process. The department looks forward to the re-bid.”

Drew Payne, chair of WVU's Board of Governors, said he accepts the AG's report and appreciates the thorough work his office has done. "I'm committed to fine-tuning our Board processes so we can do a better job of identifying possible conflicts or problems going forward, and I also applaud the University for taking corrective steps in the procurement process."

He also reiterated the conclusion of the AG that "there was no evidence of improper use or benefit of the information or of improper disclosure of information to the benefit of a proposer."

BOG member David Alvarez also said he accepts the AG’s report and understands his obligations to recuse himself from Board meetings or presentations where the current MSN contract or future outsourcing of the multimedia rights contract are being discussed. “I am fully aware of my responsibilities to recuse myself in the future,” Alvarez said.


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