WVU Issues New Tier 3 RFP

A few weeks after state attorney general Patrick Morrisey recommended West Virginia University re-bid its multimedia rights contract, WVU started that process on Tuesday by issuing a new Request For Proposals that contained some altered verbiage and a few interesting side notes.

The university clearly set out to avoid the "significant errors and sloppiness" that Morrisey previously said characterized the first go-round of the bidding for WVU's so-called "Tier 3" media rights.

As previously promised, a new evaluation committee and procurement liaison is in place for the second round of bidding. Additionally, WVU has an external legal advisor from the attorney general's office available to assist with the process.

Critically, though, the new RFP has specific language put in place presumably as the result of communications during the initial bid process between athletic director Oliver Luck and Board of Governors chair Drew Payne.

Those communications (which included privileged information about proposers), and Payne's involvement with West Virginia Media Holdings -- a likely sub-contractor for IMG College, which was the winning bidder in the first round -- were prominent among the "errors and sloppiness" cited by Morrisey.

"Throughout the procurement process, Proposers may *only* have contact with the University's Procurement Official [WVU chief procurement officer Brenda Mowen]," the new RFP reads. "Discussions or communications regarding this solicitation with any other individuals associated in any capacity with the University, its consultants or members of its Board of Governors, are prohibited, unless otherwise approved in writing by the Procurement Official.

"Discussions or communications with any other person, regardless of the format, could result in disclosure of proprietary or other competitive sensitive information or otherwise create the appearance of impropriety or unfair competition and, thereby, compromise the integrity of University's procurement process."

The process appears to be on the fast track, but it's not immediately clear if a deal will be in place in time for the beginning of the 2013 football season.

After a June 18 deadline for proposals to be received, an "anticipated solicitation schedule" indicates WVU plans to select the best offer on Aug. 5 and give notice of its intent to award the contract Aug. 23.

However, the RFP indicates the university "may, in its sole discretion, change this schedule at any time."

The university seeks a 12-year contract with potential bidders, with a pair of clauses that, collectively, could add another 10 years to the deal at the mutual agreement of both parties.

The winning bidder will ultimately be responsible for a vast array of programming, including game broadcasts on radio, pre- and post-game shows on radio, a football pre-game television show, so-called "coaches' shows" for both football and men's basketball (on both radio and television). Most significantly, one football game and at least six men's basketball games per year are to be televised by the winning bidder.

The Charleston Daily Mail previously reported the contract between WVU and IMG College that would have resulted from the first round of bidding was worth $110 million or more over a 12-year period.

It's clear the athletic department has ideas for what it could do with that sort of money.

The RFP indicates that WVU "has the interest to purchase a new scoreboard with additional signage opportunities for the 2013 football season." It goes on to add the school is "currently involved in the development of a renovation plan for the Milan Puskar Stadium. The current time schedule reflects a renovated arena being completed by the 2015-16 season."

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