SBD/June 21, 2013/Media

West Virginia Univ. Sued Over Media Rights Deal With IMG College

WVU's third-tier media rights deal could be worth $110M over 12 years
West Virginia Radio Corp. on Wednesday sued West Virginia Univ. officials and IMG College, asking a judge to "block WVU from awarding a lucrative media rights contract,” according to Eric Eyre of the CHARLESTON GAZETTE. West Virginia Radio's lawsuit “names 10 defendants," including WVU BOG Chair Drew Payne, President james Clements, AD Oliver Luck and West Virginia Media Holdings President Bray Cary. The suit accuses Cary and WVU officials of "fraud, collusion and the palpable abuse of discretion." The lawsuit said that WVU officials "‘tailored’ a recent bid request" so that IMG College and subcontractor West Virginia Media would "win the university's third-tier media rights" -- a deal valued at $110M over 12 years. Eyre noted IMG in January “signed a tentative third-tier media rights deal with WVU.” But the university announced that it would “re-bid the multimillion-dollar contract after West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a report finding that WVU officials -- including Luck and Payne -- violated purchasing and ethics rules while creating the deal with IMG.” West Virginia Radio's lawsuit also alleges that WVU “illegally acquired a scoreboard for Milan Puskar Stadium in 2007.” The lawsuit asks a judge to award unspecified "exemplary damages" from WVU officials "for their outrageous and scandalous behavior and to deter other future such breaches of their fiduciary obligations" (CHARLESTON GAZETTE, 6/20). West Virginia Radio Corp. Owner John Raese has said that he “won't bid again, but he doesn't think IMG or West Virginia Media Holdings should be allowed to vie for the contract.” In the lawsuit, he asks that they “be barred from any rebid” (Charleston DAILY MAIL, 6/20).
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