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Patrick Morrisey made a good call on WVU

JOINING the Big 12 increased the value of West Virginia University's local media rights package. After years of managing what's called Tier 3 rights in-house, WVU sought bids.

IMG College, a nationally renowned college sports marketing company, won with a bid that is believed to be $110 million over a 12-year period - or $5 million a year more than what WVU would earn in-house.

Unfortunately the bidding process drew complaints. Now, after a five-week investigation, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has advised WVU to rebid the contract and WVU President Jim Clements has agreed.

The key findings in Morrisey's 24-page report included:

  • The process to evaluate and select proposals was flawed, incomplete and not handled according to university procurement rules.
  • In the middle of evaluating the bids, the three-member evaluation committee was expanded to six.
  • WVU Board of Governors Chairman Drew Payne and board member David Alvarez should have recused themselves because of their ties to West Virginia Media Holdings, which may subcontract broadcasting rights under IMG.
  • Athletic Director Oliver Luck wrongly passed along status updates and non-substantive information to Payne, although Morrisey found that did not affect the outcome.
  • Morrisey recommended the contract be rebid and WVU will do that. The process this time will take weeks, not months.

    "It is clear from this report that mistakes were made in the procurement process, and we will take proactive steps to fix them," said Clements.

    "Starting over is simply the right thing to do."

    The bidding process itself is the right thing to do. Morrisey pointed out that since a media-rights contract generates revenue, neither state code nor WVU purchasing rules require an open bid.

    The Legislature and the university should waste little time in requiring open bids for such contracts.

    While his fellow Republican John Raese requested this investigation, Morrisey made it clear that the university is his client and not Raese's West Virginia Radio Corp., which has broadcast WVU games for decades.

    This controversy was Morrisey's first public test as attorney general. He passed with flying colors because he was fair, impartial and intelligent.


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