MORGANTOWN -- For some reason Thursday, upon learning West Virginia University had finally consummated its Tier 3 partnership with IMG College for 12 years and at least $80 million, rumor turned into fact that the athletic department had lost $30 million.
It is one of the dumbest things I've heard in a while, and that's saying something because there have been so many dumb things said and done within this twisted affair.
For starters, WVU never had $110 million. That was a projection, perhaps the most optimistic available, as relayed by people who knew someone who knew something about a deal arranged in January. Was it in the ballpark? Yes. Was it precise? Probably not, and not merely because it didn't come directly from a contract we never saw or from an authority like WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck or IMG President Ben Sutton.
That first figure, the one that trumped the second figure WVU revealed Thursday, was an approximation. It was the sum of the amount guaranteed in each of the 12 years, plus the amount of incentive available through revenues WVU hoped would be available every year.
And of course, that deal fell apart in January, undone by West Virginia Radio Corp. Owner John Raese and a quest that teetered between principled and petulant. He made points like he made enemies and he went as far as pleading to the state's attorney general. He ultimately filed a lawsuit that read more like propaganda and was ultimately spat upon by WVU with Thursday's news -- though let's not pretend Raese can't or won't file again.
But what Raese did accomplish was derailing the first agreement between WVU and IMG College. And that's about it.
This refreshed $80 million figure is going to come awfully close to the previous figure. The new number does not account for revenue sharing. What we're likely to learn when the contract is made public is that IMG College has purchased the multimedia rights and guaranteed a large chunk of money every year that will ultimately total, according to Thursday's press release, "more than" $80 million.
On top of that will be a revenue sharing plan.
IMG College will make a lot of money off of WVU. From that sum, it will pay WVU its annual (and surely escalating) guarantee. IMG College will then cover its expenses out of what's left after paying WVU. There will still be money left after that and the two will split it, probably close to evenly.