CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck and other high-ranking campus officials botched plans to award a multimillion-dollar media rights contract to North Carolina-based IMG College and West Virginia Media Holdings, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Monday.
Morrisey's review found that WVU officials made "significant errors" while bidding out the university's third-tier sports broadcast and sponsorship rights -- a contract valued at $110 million over 12 years. However, those same administrators did not attempt to rig the bid for IMG, Morrisey concluded.
WVU immediately announced plans Monday to scrap its tentative deal with IMG and rebid the contract following the release of Morrisey's 24-page report.
"It is clear from this report that mistakes were made in the procurement process, and we will take proactive steps to fix them," said WVU President James Clements. "Starting over is simply the right thing to do."
According to Morrisey's report, a three-member committee -- Luck and two other athletic department administrators -- appointed to analyze media rights bids was changed amid the evaluation. Three new members were added, which "may have materially affected the outcome of the decision," Morrisey said. Two members never voted to award the contract to IMG -- the same two athletic department administrators who served on the initial three-member panel.
Luck headed the committee and voted for IMG.
"It is unclear if IMG College would have been selected by a vote solely of the original three committee members," Morrisey said.
Committee members also scrapped a scoring system they were using to evaluate companies that bid on the media rights contract. Instead, the panel selected IMG based on "group consensus," leading to "confusion and ambiguity," according to Morrisey's report.
"The procurement process utilized in the evaluation and selection of proposals was flawed and incomplete," Morrisey said.
Morrisey also found that Luck tipped off WVU Board of Governors Chairman Drew Payne about the media rights contract -- both before and after WVU solicited bids.
Payne serves on West Virginia Media's board of directors and has a significant stake in the firm. Morrisey said Payne violated bid confidentiality policies by commenting publicly on the financial terms of the IMG deal.
Despite the missteps and numerous violations of policies and procedures, Morrisey concluded that Payne and Luck didn't attempt to "pre-cook the bid" and steer the media rights contract to IMG and West Virginia Media.
"While our office found significant errors and sloppiness in the process warranting a rebid, we did not find any evidence of intentional wrongdoing or intentional interference that might be used to advance a pre-determined result," Morrisey said at a Monday press conference at the state Capitol.
Morrisey, however, released a series of emails between Luck and Payne that raise questions about whether IMG had a leg up on the competition. Five other companies bid on the WVU contract.
In a May 2012 email, Luck forwarded a draft copy of WVU's request for bids to Payne, who responded, "Congratulations. Looks good to me. I think the responses will be strong."
Ten days later, Luck notified Payne that the bid request would be advertised "in a couple of days," according to an email.
The next day, Payne responded in an email, "I am very curious to see the range of bids. It has been a long time to get to this point. On another subject, is Florida State interested in the Big 12?"
The following month, Luck declared his frustration with the slow pace of bidding out WVU's third-tier media rights: "This bureaucracy is killing us," Luck wrote in an email to Payne. WVU and Morrisey redacted or blacked out the remaining contents of the email.
Despite Luck's frequent contract updates to Payne, Morrisey said he found no evidence that Luck disclosed financial details or other specific information about the media rights bids, which would have given IMG an unfair advantage in securing the lucrative contract. Morrisey's report did not say whether Payne forwarded Luck's emails to IMG or West Virginia Media.
On Monday, Luck acknowledged his emails to Payne were "inappropriate."