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Parsons, WVU set to part ways

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The career of Mike Parsons in West Virginia University's athletic department, which began in 1979, will officially end June 30.

Parsons, WVU's deputy director of athletics since 2003, and the university have reached a settlement agreement, sources told the Daily Mail on Tuesday. The terms of that settlement are expected to compensate Parsons beyond the end of his contract.

WVU officials were not authorized to comment on the situation. Athletic director Oliver Luck was out of town for Big 12 meetings and could not be reached for comment.

Sources told the Daily Mail that Parsons was not at work Tuesday, but had been coming to work up to and including Monday, though people around the athletic department felt he had less and less to do with daily operations.

Many of his responsibilities had been absorbed by IMG College since the company became WVU's multimedia rights partner in July. Parsons had previously been in charge of the Mountaineers Sports Network that managed WVU's multimedia rights.

"He eventually realized that function didn't exist for him anymore," a source close to Parsons said.

One source told the Daily Mail that WVU is not likely to fill the position of deputy athletic director and could instead add to the athletic department's administration.

The outsourcing of those multimedia rights were the most divisive topic between Parsons and Luck, sources told the Daily Mail. Luck, Parsons and associate athletic director for business operations Michael Szul were on the original three-person evaluation committee to decide whether to put the department's multimedia contract up for bid.

Three additional committee members later were added - Steve Kite, chairperson of WVU's department of geology and geography; Robert Griffith, an associate professor in the department of pharmaceutical science; and Alan Pearce, an assistant dean in the college of business and economics. Those three and Luck voted in favor of awarding the contract to IMG College. Neither Parsons nor Szul voted.

State attorney general Patrick Morrisey encouraged WVU to restart the bidding process after an investigation by his office discovered "significant errors and sloppiness" in the initial attempt.

During that investigation, Morrisey found that Parsons was not in favor of outsourcing the rights, while Szul had requested more information comparing IMG College to MSN. As part of restarting the bidding process, WVU replaced all six committee members.

Parsons, 59, joined WVU's athletic department as sports information director in 1979, was promoted to assistant athletic director in 1982 and deputy athletic director in 2003. As deputy AD, he oversaw daily operational details, program administration and strategic planning as well as the athletic department's external affairs. He also was responsible for most contract matters, including employment agreements, sponsorship agreements, broadcast rights agreements and game contracts.

A Charleston native, Parsons earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from WVU in 1977 and spent three years at Florida State University as assistant sports information director.



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