WVU, WVRC saga nears conclusion

MORGANTOWN-The long awaited conclusion between West Virginia University and the West Virginia Radio Corporation should come to fruition some time this week and it couldn’t come at a better time.

The 16-month battle over the Mountaineers’ Tier 3 broadcasting package, awarded to IMG College in July, 2013, came to a head when businessman John Raese, who owns WVRC, protested the deal and drew the involvement of state attorney general Patrick Morrisey to settle the dispute.

IMG College is the nation’s leading collegiate multimedia, marketing and licensing/brand management company, representing more than 200 of the nation’s top collegiate properties, including the NCAA and its 89 championships, NCAA Football, leading conferences and many of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country.

Headquartered in Winston Salem, N.C., IMG College connects brands with the largest and most demographically attractive fan base in sports through partnership opportunities in multimedia rights, sponsorship sales, licensing, marketing, ticketing, seating, fundraising, premium events and hospitality, stadium and arena development, and consulting.

IMG College produces nearly 31,000 hours of radio programming on the largest sports network in the country, manages nearly 5,000 hours of local television programming, is the leading publisher of college sports publications and is the largest manager of university athletic websites. IMG College is a division of IMG Worldwide, a global sports, fashion and media business.

The marriage between WVU and IMG College was to be worth in excess of $9 million during its first year and was expected to grow during the tenure of the contract. A dispute over the process and of alleged improprieties and favoritism surrounding the awarding of the contract by Raese sent the matter to the courts.

In April, Morrisey ruled that WVU had been guilty of “significant errors and sloppiness” in its process and recommended that Director of Athletics Oliver Luck and his staff re-bid the contract. WVU complied, but again picked IMG College for a deal worth $86 million over 12 years.

WVRC sued the WVU Board of Governors, West Virginia Media Holdings and IMG College following that process with Judge Robert Evans hearing oral arguments on May 23.

If WVRC can compel Evans to rule in its favor, WVU would be made to reopen its search for a Tier 3 partner for the third time.