CHARLESTON, W.Va. - With state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey saying significant errors were made, West Virginia University will scrap bids for its athletic department's multimedia rights and start over.
Morrisey released a 24-page report of findings from a five-week review of WVU's media rights bidding process during a press conference Monday.
While his office found "significant errors and sloppiness" in the bidding process, Morrisey said it found no evidence of "intentional wrongdoing."
WVU Board of Governors Chairman Drew Payne and board member David Alvarez should have recused themselves from any participation, he said.
Both Payne and Alvarez have financial ties to West Virginia Media Holdings, a company that was poised to subcontract with potential bid winner IMG Media for some athletic broadcasts.
Morrisey said Payne also improperly received information and commented publicly on the process. But he said none of those errors had a significant impact on the outcome.
"We didn't think that there was any intent to steer something inappropriately," Morrisey said. "What we saw here was that there was a lot of errors and there was sloppiness, but we didn't see any intent to pre-cook a result."
After a seven-month request-for-proposal process, WVU sent a letter of intent to media firm IMG College on Jan. 13 to begin contract negotiations regarding the school's Tier 3 multimedia rights, which include radio sports broadcasting and some televised football and basketball games.
WVU was one of only a few schools that had continued to manage Tier 3 broadcasting and marketing in-house, mainly through its Mountaineer Sports Network.
Sources have said IMG and WVU were set to agree on a 12-year, $110 million contract that would have netted the university about $5 million more per year than its current Tier 3 media arrangement.
IMG's proposal was one of six submitted.
Morrisey said enough errors were made that he thought the university should start over.
"It's our recommendation that all current proposals should be rejected and that the multimedia rights matter should be re-bid," he said.
Morrisey spoke with WVU President Jim Clements Sunday night.
Shortly after Morrisey's press conference, Clements confirmed the university would rebid the Tier 3 media rights "in the near future."
"It is clear from this report that mistakes were made in the procurement process, and we will take proactive steps to fix them," he said in a statement released by the university.
"Starting over is simply the right thing to do."
WVU suspended its procurement process with IMG on Feb. 20 after Morgantown businessman John Raese raised a series of questions and complaints.
Morrisey was asked to provide outside legal advice on March 5.
Raese owns the West Virginia Radio Corp., which currently handles radio broadcasts of WVU games and also bid on the Tier 3 rights.
His complaints centered on the apparent pending partnership between IMG College and Bray Cary's West Virginia Media Holdings, which produces basketball and football coach talk shows and has aired WVU spring football games in recent years.
Raese said Payne's current status as a West Virginia Media shareholder created an "appearance of impropriety."
Payne has said he and the WVU board "stayed completely away" from the contract, letting Athletic Director Oliver Luck take the lead role. He said Raese was acting to preserve his current broadcasting deal with the university.
Morrisey said Monday his office is also looking at current contracts between the WVU athletic department and both West Virginia Media and West Virginia Radio.
He is also examining previous scoreboard donations and purchases, football spring game contracts and university compliance with the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act.
He said findings from those investigations would be released at a later date.
Morrisey's report on the media rights bid process included several key findings: