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Judge denies WVRC motion against WVU on IMG agreement

A Monongalia County judge has denied a civil court motion filed by West Virginia Radio Corp. for a summary judgment against West Virginia University and others in regard to WVU’s third-tier rights agreement with IMG College, LLC.

Business Court Division Circuit Judge Thomas Evans ruled the Agreement to License will not be rescinded or held to be void under W.Va. Code 18B-5-4(n), which had been cited by the Morgantown radio company.

Those targeted by West Virginia Radio in the suit were the West Virginia University Board of Governors, WVU Foundation, Inc., West Virginia Media Holdings, Andrew Payne, David Alvarez, Bray Cary, Ralph Ballard, Oliver Luck, Jim Clements and IMG College.

West Virginia Radio was seeking relief in the matter and a declaration that any contract entered into by WVU and IMG be void. The plaintiff had claimed the WVU BOG-IMG Agreement to License should be voided “as a matter of law due to the systemic violations of WVU Procurement Rules” in the third-tier media rights process. It was charged that “Insider Defendants” had financial interest in the contract, which goes against the West Virginia Ethics Act. The decision was not, however, issued on the latter charge.

Instead, Evans allowed the $86.5 million, 12-year agreement to stand because the code cited by the plaintiffs didn’t apply.

“The Court concludes that, with limited and inapplicable exceptions, Chapter 18B, Article 5 does not create a statutory basis” for the revenue-generating contract.

The order was entered this past Thursday.

WVU awarded IMG the contract twice. After the first time, John Raese, co-owner of West Virginia Radio, protested, corresponding with former WVU president Jim Clements on “several occasions.” The school then rebid the RFP (request for proposals) at the attorney general’s recommendation in 2013.

The practical effect of the court order is that the WVU-IMG contract is valid for the next 11 years.

Raese, however, is expected to continue pursuing his other claims within the original lawsuit.

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