MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Whether you're a fan of NASCAR or not doesn't matter today. What matters is whether you're prepared to see West Virginia University's athletic department treated like one of those stock cars.
Stickers here. Logos there. Company names wherever they fit. Alterations and modifications to add and create space for more of the same.
It's coming. It may not be quite as obnoxious as your most pessimistic predictions suggest, but it's coming. WVU is once again outsourcing the management of its athletic department's sponsorship and multimedia rights. To monetize means to commercialize and that means you'd better open your mind to seemingly endless opportunities for what the university calls "sponsorship recognition."
That much is clear after WVU released a revised and bold Request For Proposals this week. WVU tried this 11 months ago and thought it had reached the end of the road in January, when it sent a letter to IMG College essentially congratulating the industry leader on winning the contract.
Then came the aggressive, egregious and eventually substantiated protest from West Virginia Radio Corp. that brought the whole thing off the rails. WVU then promised to rebid its multimedia rights.
At the very media friendly time of 4:37 p.m. Tuesday - and, yes, that'd be May 14, just a day before a clause in WVU's contract with West Virginia Radio Corp. allows for a mutual renewal of their partnership - WVU sent out an email announcing the revised RFP to start the rebid.
It doesn't merely provide pieces for the puzzle. It paints the picture. What WVU wants for and from radio, television, digital properties, signage and sponsorship is pretty clear. This is a significant undertaking toward a new image for the athletic department.
And now that we know all the details, we fixate upon the dates, just because the requests are so vast and, at the same time, so necessary. WVU wants bids by June 18, wants to witness presentations 10 days later, wants to pick a winner by Aug. 5 and wants to notify the winner by Aug. 23.
Mind you, the football season, unequivocally the most lucrative asset WVU is offering, starts Aug. 31 - eight days later.