W.Va. Radio media deal offer a fraction of IMG’s

CHARLESTON (AP) — Newly disclosed documents show the radio network trying to block IMG College from finalizing its contract for media rights to some West Virginia University sports events offered the school less than $6 million in profits over the first 10 years.

That’s compared with the more than $78 million that North Carolina-based IMG promised in the same period.

The Charleston Daily Mail obtained the numbers through a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents show West Virginia Radio Corp. projected WVU would reap $5.7 million over 10 years.

It’s now suing in Monongalia County Circuit Court, asking a judge to block the deal and reset the clock to June as it tries to salvage broadcasting work it had for 70 years. WVU has declined comment on the litigation.

In all, IMG’s deal guarantees WVU at least $86.5 million over the life of the 12-year contract.

It was the second time IMG prevailed in the bidding. WVU was forced to rebid after Attorney General Patrick Morrisey found “significant errors and sloppiness” in how the first deal was crafted.

West Virginia Radio is co-owned by brothers John and David Raese. It works closely with the university-operated Mountaineer Sports Network, which has long handled WVU broadcasts.

West Virginia Radio wants a judge to order WVU to rebid the contract again, with IMG and West Virginia Media Holdings disbarred from the process. West Virginia Media Holdings, run by Bray Cary, is an IMG subcontractor and a competing network of news organizations.

West Virginia Radio argues that WVU tailored its second request for proposals so carefully that only IMG and West Virginia Media could meet the requirements.

The newspaper reported Friday that in both bid attempts, IMG offered the most money.

Its first bid guaranteed WVU a minimum of $78.3 million in royalties and other payments over 10 years.

Missouri-based Learfield Communications had the second-highest guaranteed total, offering $70.5 million. Philadelphia-based Front Row Marketing Services, a Comcast subsidiary, offered a minimum of $50.3 million.

West Virginia Radio offered a revenue-sharing proposal that did not guarantee a minimum but projected $5.7 million.

In the second round, IMG increased its offer but also extended the contract proposal by two years.

A judge has scheduled the first hearing on West Virginia Radio Corp.’s lawsuit to stop West Virginia University from finalizing a 12-year contract for media rights to certain athletic events.

Judge Thomas Evans will hear motions Aug. 26 in Monongalia County Circuit Court. He took over the case after another judge was accused of a conflict of interest.

The network also wants the contract be rebid for a third time, with North Carolina-based IMG College and subcontractor West Virginia Media Holdings disbarred from the process.

WVU had to rebid the first contract after the attorney general found significant errors in how that deal was crafted. IMG won the second round last month.

WVU’s broadcasts were handled for decades by university-operated Mountaineer Sports Network. It works closely with West Virginia Radio.

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