CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey walked out of a Monday morning meeting with West Virginia Radio Corp. owner John Raese in Morgantown, just the latest chapter in the drama surrounding West Virginia University's Tier 3 media rights.
Morrisey's office is providing legal counsel and advice to WVU as part of a probe into potential ethical and legal violations during the process to bid out the athletic department's so-called Tier 3 media rights.
In January, WVU and media firm IMG College reached an agreement on a 12-year contract that could carry an overall value of $110 million for the firm to manage those rights, which include radio sports broadcasting and some televised football and basketball games.
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.
Raese, whose company has broadcast WVU games and also bid on the Tier 3 rights, has for months raised questions about the process and has written letters urging Morrisey to investigate.
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.
Payne has said he "stayed completely away" from the new sports rights contract.
Last month, Morrisey agreed to assist the university in conducting a review of the situation. On Monday, Morrisey and his chief counsel met with Raese and his attorney, Bob Gywnne, in Morgantown.
From all accounts, the meeting did not go well.
"In the spirit of fairness and in a good faith attempt to make additional progress in our office's review of the West Virginia media rights matter, I sat down with John Raese and his attorney on Monday," Morrisey said in a statement, "so that we could learn additional information that might allow our office to get to the bottom of his allegations."