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Mike Casazza: Questions linger, but attorney general report revealing

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Monday was a fun day if you're a fan of education. A fan of West Virginia University? Not so much.

Patrick Morrisey, the state attorney general, pulled the cover off his five-week inquiry of WVU's flawed process of farming out the athletic department's multimedia rights. He used strong words to highlight mistakes and say that WVU should have known better in some matters, but he also stopped short of saying WVU was intentionally negligent.

Talk about a backhanded compliment.

Still, while we know exactly what was wrong, we're not sure why those things went bad. A lot of that can only be answered by WVU's Procurement, Contracting and Payment Services, and a good question to start would be "What were they thinking?"

Really, why did WVU go with a Request for Proposals that eventually led the university into the process it botched, when it never had to go with the RFP in the first place? How was that overlooked?

There are others questions, and I've asked. Some have been answered, others have not. It requires time and help from the university's media relations folks, which is fine. Procurement has its hands full with more important matters related to the questions, though that the hands are still full as it readies for a re-bid is an issue itself.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other discoveries to consider. Included in Morrisey's report, well after his five findings, were 19 exhibits used by Morrisey and his team in the report. One was "Addendum #6" to the original RFP, a lengthy question-and-answer review between WVU and "pre-qualified offerors."

The content was deemed "confidential" and not to be disclosed to any third parties. That all changed when it became a public record as part of Morrisey's conclusion. And for that, we learned many things about WVU. Among them:

  • WVU will provide one non-conference football game and four, five or six non-conference men's basketball games to the Tier 3 contract. "The University must have complete coverage of the State of West Virginia and the Pittsburgh market for its third tier television opportunities."
  • Asked by an offeror about bid criteria and specifically if WVU was looking for "the biggest paycheck," WVU replied, "What is really important is our brand - we want a partner that can help us be on the cutting edge - this is a huge opportunity to grow with us."
  • WVU athletics does not have a mobile app. But the website is available on mobile devices and tablets.
  • Asked about being open to "radical changes" to past practices, WVU said it "encourages firms to be creative in its proposals and will consider any proposed changes that deliver value to the university."
  • WVU is "not concerned" with what an offeror called "over-commercialization."
  • Offerors were, and presumably still are, interested in "email blasts" and other social media methods to connect with fans and benefit sponsor commitments.
  • WVU wants a rights holder to help "maximize its digital and social media assets."
  • Office space for IMG College, or Learfield, or whichever company wins the bid, could have a Morgantown office in the Coliseum after the College of Physical Activities and Sports Sciences relocates.
  • When asked about new video boards and signage, WVU revealed Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium had been identified as a future location.
  • Hospitality tents are a big part of the future revenue plans. There are three areas outside the stadium designated to accommodate between eight and 13 sponsor tents. The rights holder will have exclusive rights to sell and manage pregame hospitality tents.
  • WVU will retain the sponsorship rights for the Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic.
  • WVU has an agreement with Gatorade through June 30, 2015.
  • Bob Huggins represents Spaulding.
  • WVU receives 25 percent of "total net retail sales" from the Team Fan Shop.
  • The ROTC receives 20 percent of gross sales for selling the Game Day program.
  • WVU will place "no requirements or restrictions" on the rights holder hiring university personnel.
  • WVU is open to retaining its radio talent for football and men's basketball games. "The University is very confidence with the current broadcast teams for its radio broadcasts. The radio talent fees are approximately $3,000 per football game and $2,200 per men's basketball game."
  • The rights holder will only have access to buy tickets to WVU bowl and NCAA Tournament games.
  • The rights holder will be allowed to have a photo store, DVD store and online auction site.
  • The rights holder will have the ability to apply sponsor names to tailgating areas outside Mountaineer Field. Example: Dodge Blue Lot.

It's not clear if they'll accept a bid for the Marshall University Green Lot.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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