WVU reveals some of its legal costs
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A law firm known to help colleges with athletic eligibility issues charged West Virginia University more than $5,800 in July for about 25 hours of work related to a member of the football team.
The firm had worked both before it signed the contract with WVU and before the Office of the Attorney General approved the school's hiring of an outside attorney.
WVU provided a copy of invoices submitted to the school by the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck and King. The school provided the heavily redacted invoices in response to a Daily Mail Freedom of Information Act request.
School officials won't say specifically why they need the firm, or if the firm continues to do work for WVU.
In August, WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck told the Daily Mail that the school needed outside expertise for the particular situation. WVU spokesman John Bolt later confirmed the issue involves a "technical question concerning the initial eligibility of a student athlete."
Initial eligibility refers to the academic and amateurism rules potential student athletes need to meet before competing in college athletics, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association website.
WVU signed a contract in July with Bond, Schoeneck and King, a large law firm with a collegiate sports group run by well-known attorney Mike Glazier.
Dubbed "The Cleaner" by various sports media outlets, Glazier has spearheaded the legal defense for numerous universities facing serious infractions of NCAA rules and regulations. The firm also assists schools with NCAA eligibility and compliance issues.
Glazier himself performed only a fraction of the 25.25 hours of work billed to WVU, according to the invoices.
Each invoice lists a date, the initials of an attorney who works for the firm, the number of hours worked and a description of the work performed. WVU blacked out all of the information listed under the description section. Other portions of the invoice were also redacted.
The invoice lists the initials "MSG" as putting in 15 minutes of work July 17, while "KRS" did the remaining 25 hours. Glazier is the only attorney who works in the collegiate sports group with the initials "MSG." Kyle R. Skillman, an associate with Glazier's group, is the only attorney in the group with the initials "KRS."
The invoice states the law firm is due $5,837.50. It isn't clear on the document if WVU paid the law firm.
Although the contract cites July 9 as the start date for the agreement, the law firm billed 2.75 hours of work before that date. It also billed almost 11 hours of work before the attorney general officially said WVU could hire the attorney.
On Aug. 15, Bolt said WVU received "verbal approval" to contract with the law firm before the contract was signed. On several different occasions he declined to say who granted the verbal approval.
Bolt said in a phone interview Monday the Office of the Attorney General provided the verbal approval.
In July, attorney general spokeswoman Beth Ryan said the office was not aware of any written contract entered into by WVU and the law firm prior to a written determination from the office allowing the contract dated July 26.
"The office followed the procedures of the outside counsel policy accordingly and issued its waiver on that date," Ryan said.
The policy does not state the office is allowed to provide "verbal approval" for itself or a state agency when hiring a private attorney. It also doesn't provide any ramifications if the office or a state agency ignores the policy.
Ryan declined to say what happens if the office or a state agency disregards the policy.
"It would be inappropriate for our office to speculate about how we would handle a potential disagreement with a client," Ryan said.
When the office formally announced the implementation of the six-page policy in July, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey championed the measure as proof of the office wanted the public to know about how it hired private attorneys.
"This policy sends a strong message that West Virginia will be transparent and accountable with respect to the use of outside counsel," Morrisey said in the release.
The policy applies to the hiring of private attorneys to represent the state and state agencies. A "draft policy" was implemented in April, and the office handled more than a dozen cases under the draft policy, according to the news release. The final policy officially took effect July 16.
This is not the only NCAA issue potentially facing the WVU football team, according to Daily Mail archives.
Associate head coach/special teams coordinator Joe DeForest is reportedly accused in a Sports Illustrated investigation of paying athletes who made certain plays while he coached at Oklahoma State University.
In a statement Monday, Sports Illustrated announced a five-piece investigative report called "The Dirty Game" looks at the Oklahoma State football program and alleged transgressions from 2001 to 2010. The announcement mentions several coaches by name and references several assistant coaches. It does not specifically mention DeForest.
The first part of the report is available online today, according to the announcement.
DeForest, an assistant with Oklahoma State from 2001 to 2011, denied the allegations to The Oklahoman newspaper. In a statement Saturday that did not mention DeForest by name, Athletic Director Oliver Luck acknowledged a pending report in the sports magazine.
"Upon learning of the pending investigative report, WVU launched an internal review to ensure the coach's full compliance to NCAA rules while at West Virginia," Luck said in the statement.
"The NCAA has also been contacted. While our assistant football coach has denied the allegations, it is the right thing to do to look into the matter and review practices here."
Luck concluded the statement by saying WVU would make no further comment "while the review is taking place."
Although the school has said its work with the Bond, Schoeneck and King law firm involves a single eligibility issue, the contract itself is open ended.
It states the firm will provide services on "various legal matters that may arise from time to time during the term of this Agreement, on a project-to-project basis."
The contract says WVU can end the agreement with written notice to the firm, but there is no set length for the agreement included in the contract. The contract lists no particular deadlines for when it expects the law firm to complete any work.
The contract also allows for the possibility the agreement will extend beyond the current fiscal year.
Bolt said the document is the standard contract WVU uses for hiring outside counsel. Regarding Luck's statement, he declined to comment as to whether the law firm — or any other private attorneys — are working for the school in connection to the allegations concerning DeForest.