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Caridi signs deal with IMG College

Longtime sports broadcaster Tony Caridi will return this fall as the voice of the Mountaineers on IMG College's new Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG, the North Carolina-based company announced Monday.

Caridi, who succeeded legendary broadcaster Jack Fleming as Mountaineer play-by-play man in 1997, will continue in his radio role for a seventeenth season this year and also host new WVU television programming produced by the new network.

"I'm excited to continue my relationship with the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG and the wonderful and passionate fans that love the Mountaineers," Caridi said in a press release.

"It's an honor and privilege to be associated with a network that's always been respected as one of the nation's best, particularly as coverage of Mountaineer sports now expands," he said.

A source told the Daily Mail last month IMG officials had made an "aggressive" offer to keep Caridi on the WVU broadcast team.

"Following our recent agreement with WVU to carry Mountaineer sports, we had two immediate objectives: to quickly build our affiliate network, and bring Tony Caridi back to the booth calling Mountaineers sports," IMG Vice President Joe Potter said in Monday's press release.

 "Over the past several weeks, affiliate pick up has been extremely strong, and now we're absolutely thrilled Tony has committed to our broadcasts," Potter said.

Ever since WVU announced July 11 that it had signed a 12-year, $86.5 million contract turning over the school's so-called Tier 3 multimedia rights to IMG, many WVU fans wondered if Caridi would stay on the school's broadcast team.

In addition to his work with WVU, Caridi was also an employee of the West Virginia Radio Corp., hosting the "Northside Automotive Statewide Sportsline" sports talk show and also working as general manager for West Virginia Radio's Pikewood Creative advertising arm.

West Virginia Radio owner John Raese has been vocal in his criticism of WVU's multimedia rights bidding process. In response to his protests, WVU officials brought in Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office to investigate the matter.

While he found no intentional wrongdoing, Morrisey found enough "sloppiness and errors" in the process to recommend that WVU rebid the multimedia rights contract. Unsatisfied with that result, Raese is continuing to pursue a lawsuit seeking to bar IMG from doing business with WVU.

Caridi, IMG officials and WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck had both been quoted as saying they would like Caridi to remain WVU's play-by-play man, though it remained to be seen how Caridi's employment with West Virginia Radio - which has yet to announce if it will carry Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG - would affect the situation.

On Friday, Caridi headlined an Inside the Huddle fundraiser for the United Way of Southern West Virginia in Summersville.

According to the Beckley Register-Herald, Caridi said he had told IMG officials he wanted to continue broadcasting West Virginia Radio's "Sportsline" radio show. He told the event crowd Friday he and IMG were close to finalizing their arrangement allowing him to continue hosting the show.  

"That's just one of several things we had to deal with, and, fortunately, it all worked out," Caridi said.

Caridi, a Syracuse University graduate, started working with the former Mountaineer Sports Network in 1987 as a television play-by-play announcer and feature reporter.

The sports director for West Virginia Radio's MetroNews network, Caridi has won the state's Sportscaster of the Year award on several occasions.

Appearing Monday morning on Hoppy Kercheval's MetroNews "Talkline" radio show, Caridi said his contract with IMG is a four-year agreement.

He also said, under the new agreement, he would host both the radio and television versions of WVU's football and men's basketball coaches' shows.

IMG said additional talent for the WVU broadcasts, including color commentary and sideline reporting, will be announced at a later date.

Also Monday, the company announced four new affiliates for its WVU radio network. They were: WDBS-FM and WKQV-FM in Sutton, WVBD-FM in Fayetteville, and WRON-FM in Ronceverte.

The new stations bring the network's total affiliate count to 20, with more expected to be announced in the near future.

Kercheval said on his show Monday that West Virginia Radio should announce its decision regarding upcoming WVU programming "in the very near future."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836. 


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