CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University officials have asked state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office to assist in reviewing the school athletic department's so-called Tier 3 media rights process.
The school has asked Morrisey's office to "provide outside legal advice and assistance" as the university continues its internal review of the process.
In January, multiple sources confirmed that WVU and media firm IMG College had agreed to a 12-year contract that could carry an overall value of $110 million for the firm to manage the school's Tier 3 multimedia rights, which include radio sports broadcasting and some televised football and basketball games.
WVU was one of a few schools that had continued to manage its Tier 3 broadcasting and marketing in-house, mainly through its Mountaineer Sports Network.
The new arrangement is designed to make WVU athletics more attractive to regional advertising. The university is expected to net an additional $5 million a year through the new contract.
But on Feb. 20, WVU paused the finalization of the agreement in response to complaints raised by Morgantown businessman John Raese.
Raese owns the West Virginia Radio Corp., which currently broadcasts WVU games and also bid on the Tier 3 rights.
Raese's complaints centered mainly on an apparent pending partnership between IMG College and Bray Cary's West Virginia Media Holdings, which produces basketball and football coach talk shows distributed across the company's network of statewide television affiliates.
Raese said there was an "appearance of impropriety" because Drew Payne, chairman of WVU's Board of Governors, previously held a major stake in West Virginia Media Holdings and sits on the company's board of directors while still in possession of a smaller share of the company.
In a Feb. 7 interview with the Daily Mail, Payne said he and the board have "stayed completely away" from the new sports rights contract, letting Athletic Director Oliver Luck take the lead role in the process.
Payne said Raese's complaints were driven by nothing more than self-interest.