CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For the second time this year, West Virginia University has picked North Carolina-based IMG College to manage the athletic department's multimedia rights.
WVU is guaranteed to make more than $80 million over the course of the 12-year deal, which begins with the upcoming fall sports season, and will also benefit from additional revenue-sharing opportunities, according to a press release detailing the plan.
The deal, announced Thursday, follows a bitter seven-month public feud between school officials and West Virginia Radio Corp. owner John Raese over an initial selection process tainted by what state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey called "significant errors and sloppiness."
The decision to sell off these so-called Tier 3 rights, which include radio sports broadcasting and some televised football and basketball games, was seen by school officials as a way to raise a significant amount of revenue and boost the school's marketing profile.
The deal awards IMG control over a slew of university-related properties, including: management of local radio and television game broadcasts and coaches' shows; publications like media guides and schedules; digital platforms, including social media and websites; corporate sponsorships; at-event promotions and game day hospitality; stadium and venue signage; and advertising in university-owned and leased athletic facilities.
WVU Athletics Director Oliver Luck said in a statement Thursday he was "extremely pleased" with the deal.
"It was time for WVU Athletics to grow our multimedia and sponsorship sales, especially with our recent move to the Big 12 Conference," Luck said.
"With the resources, services and proven track record that IMG College brings, WVU now has the opportunity to expand its revenue base by engaging new national sponsors while building our athletic and university brand," he said.
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.
For decades, West Virginia Radio officials worked hand-in-hand with Mountaineer Sports Network to produce radio broadcasts of WVU football and basketball events.
Last year, the university began soliciting proposals to bid out these rights.
Raese's company was one of several to submit bids, but once IMG became the apparent winner, he cried foul.
His complaints centered on the potential 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.
WVU Board of Governors Chairman Drew Payne and board member David Alvarez have financial ties to West Virginia Media Holdings, and Raese said both stood to benefit from IMG being awarded the contract.
WVU eventually suspended the initial bid process in February after Raese sent multiple letters to the university, state officials and the media airing his complaints.
WVU later asked Morrisey to step in and look into the process. In April, Morrisey released a report saying the number of errors warranted a rebid.