MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- On Sunday, West Virginia University did its part to expand the geographic footprint of the Big 12 Conference, officially joining the 10-team league after accepting an invitation in late October.
The next day, the Mountaineers did more important work by doing their part to expand the school's digital footprint.
The companies interested in bidding for WVU's sponsorship and multimedia rights (Tier 3 rights) had to submit a pre-qualification statement by 4 p.m. Monday.
WVU will spend the next two weeks assessing the statements and must respond to the submissions by July 17.
One individual who works in the media rights business told the Daily Mail the pre-qualification "is not always done but at least one other school recently followed this same course. It's not a bad thing." In truth, it's prudent and pretty smart.
The Mountaineers built in ample time to deal with this endeavor and don't plan on using the winning bidder until the 2013-14 athletic year.
In the meantime, they can afford to fine-tooth comb through submissions and ideas, separate contenders from pretenders, pick potential partners and deal with those select few later down the line.
And that process would also include picking whom WVU could not partner with in this new frontier.
Read through the Request for Proposals (RFP) posted last month, or just trust what follows, and understand WVU has a rather specific list of demands. It requires experience, and proof of that experience, in a number of multimedia tasks, as well as an ability to prove the financial resources are available to do what WVU wants.
The interpretation is that a bidding company is only qualified if it has done everything WVU desires and can prove it's financially fit to do what WVU asks.
Now that's logical. You want to pick a partner that has the best background in what you envision and you definitely want someone who can fund it over a long term - and the most common estimate bandied about at this stage is somewhere between $2 and $5 million a year with $3 million seeming like a suitable landing spot.
It's not common, but it's not unprecedented that an entity like an athletic department, a conference or a professional franchise enters into a contract with a company and then discovers the company wasn't stable enough to fund the plan.