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WVU reveals wish list in media rights deal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University again is seeking bids for the athletic department's multimedia rights, a month after it was admonished by State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for slipshod work in attempting to outsource the lucrative sponsorship assets.

The university issued a revised "request for proposal" on Tuesday.

WVU classified its revised RFP as "corrective actions" after canceling the initial RFP April 15. Earlier that day, Morrisey had spotlighted "significant errors" and "sloppiness" in the process that led WVU to send a notice of intent to award the contract to IMG College.

Morrissey said his office's review found no "intent to steer something inappropriately" but nevertheless encouraged WVU to start anew.

The university said later that day it would do so and Tuesday revealed its plan, which includes a new evaluation committee, a new procurement liaison, an external adviser from Morrissey's office and an updated and far more detailed proposal.

WVU Chief Procurement Officer Brenda Mowen will now lead the process. It was originally handled by Tim Bostonia, associate director for business development in the Division of Finance in the Department of Purchasing, Contracts and Payment Services.

"This Office is happy to provide assistance to the University as it moves forward with the revised request to ensure the process is as seamless as possible," Morrisey said in a statement.

The new RFP, which is 92 pages long and more than 34,000 words, carefully details ways to avoid more allegations of impropriety, but also spells out virtually all of WVU's vision as it attempts to join the rest of college athletics and let an outside firm manage the so-called Tier 3 rights.

West Virginia Radio Corp. has done business with WVU for decades, and owner John Raese alleged the process was compromised. He cited IMG College's prior relationship with Bray Cary's West Virginia Media Holdings, which produces basketball and football coach talk shows and was apparently set to be a sub-contractor for IMG College.

Morrisey also found last month that WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck violated confidentiality and non-disclosure guidelines when he updated Drew Payne, chairman of the university's Board of Governors.

Morrisey also said Payne and David Alvarez, a member of the Board of Governors, should have recused themselves from all discussions related to the original RFP because both have financial ties to Cary's West Virginia Media.

The new RFP says "proposers" may interact only with Mowen and communication with anyone else affiliated with the "university, its consultants, contractors or members of its Board of Governors" is prohibited. Violations, unless approved in writing, could disqualify a proposer.

WVU does allow for the use of subcontractors, as long as the proposer notifies WVU in advance.

The remainder of the RFP goes into great depth about WVU's plan, which it states as "seeking to maximize revenues and program effectiveness by licensing the Multi-media Rights associated with its radio and television programming, signage opportunities, internet advertising, gameday publications, and other sponsorship opportunities."

Specifically, WVU is looking to consolidate its multimedia rights with local, regional and national companies to establish "high-profile identification" with the Mountaineers.

WVU could monetize its radio network properties, specific television games and programs, signage at athletic facilities, ticket backs, in-game and special event promotions, posters, magnets, schedule cards, hospitality tents, football and basketball publications and an array of other properties.

Sources previously told the Daily Mail the contract between WVU and IMG College was to be for a term of 12 years and was worth upwards of $110 million. The RFP seeks a 12-year term that would begin as soon as possible and include two renewal clauses for additional five-year terms.

An IMG College representative told the Daily Mail last month Morrisey's decision "confirms that IMG College submitted the best proposal and is the best partner for representing West Virginia University's multimedia rights" and that the company was eager to enact a partnership.

Only now are there details available about what WVU has in mind. The RFP explains what the university envisions with its radio, television, signage and sponsorship opportunities.

With regard to radio rights, the winning bidder will have the rights to broadcast, market, produce and distribute on terrestrial, satellite and Internet radio, or other audio formats, WVU's football, men's basketball, women's basketball and baseball games, including preseason, postseason and spring games.

Pre- and post-game shows for the four sports are also expected and WVU would like to see the format for football doubled to two hours before a game and an hour after the game.

Additionally, the winning bidder will have the same rights and responsibilities for weekly and/or daily programming related to athletics, including coaches' shows for football and men's basketball.

The plan is greater for television. One football game and at least six men's basketball games will be reserved for the winning bidder. Both sports will have at least 24 weekly coaches' shows of at least 30 minutes in length.

WVU also has designs for a pre-game football program, signing day specials, preseason and postseason specials, sports awards banquets and beginning in the 2014-15 year of the contract a "University Gala Fundraising Event" on "third-party" stations.

WVU also explains what signage properties it will maintain at its venues and 28 that are available for advertisements - everything from space on scoreboards and concession containers to sideline kicking nets and coaching headsets at football games.

The RFP later says that WVU has interest in a new scoreboard with more signage space that would be ready in time for the coming season. It also says WVU is currently involved in developing a renovation plan for Milan Puskar Stadium and that the current schedule reflects the likelihood the renovations are completed in time for the 2015-16 contract year.

What the Mountaineers have planned for there isn't mentioned and Luck and WVU football Coach Dana Holgorsen didn't return messages left Tuesday.

WVU has set a June 18 deadline for proposals and hopes to select the best offer by Aug. 5 and notify the winner no later than Aug. 13.

WVU also listed factors that the evaluation committee will use by relative order of importance: financial proposal and adequacy of financial resources; work plan; qualifications of the firm; staffing plan; compliance with the overall requirements of the RFP; and overall quality and completeness of the response.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.

 


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