CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Morgantown businessman John Raese alleged Thursday that top West Virginia University officials created an "appearance of impropriety" and violated a pact to keep confidential a lucrative media rights contract that's expected to be awarded to IMG College and West Virginia Media Holdings.
Raese also raised questions about WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins' new contract, the football stadium scoreboard and the university's decision to use West Virginia Media to broadcast the Mountaineers' spring football game, according to a letter Raese sent to WVU President Jim Clements.
Raese alleged athletic director Oliver Luck and Board of Governors Chairman Drew Payne disclosed details about the media rights contract last week.
Payne, who has acknowledged speaking to Luck about the media rights deal, serves on West Virginia Media's board of directors and had a major stake in the Charleston firm until last year. Payne, who stands to benefit financially from the contract, has said he played no role in the deal - valued at $110 million over 12 years.
"There is clearly an appearance of impropriety when an individual who is a member of the Board of Governors of WVU -- its chairman -- and who also serves on the board of directors of West Virginia Media has access to confidential information, access which is denied to the public," Raese wrote to Clements.
Raese, who has run unsuccessfully for West Virginia governor and the U.S. Senate, sent a copy of the letter to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who recently established a public corruption unit. Morrisey would not comment Thursday.
Raese's company, West Virginia Radio, also bid on the WVU media rights contract.
"They need to tell the public what has happened regarding this transaction," said Bob Gwynne, a lawyer for Raese-owned Greer Industries. "It's a question of public trust."
In his letter, Raese asked Clements to investigate men's basketball coach Bob Huggins' new contract. Huggins is a West Virginia Media investor.
Raese said Huggins' contract includes a $25,000 bonus each time WVU defeats the University of Kansas. Raese called the bonus "a questionable incentive."
He said Payne apparently has oversight over Huggins contract. Payne and Huggins are close friends, according to Payne.
"I would like to ask you who initiated this raise and incentive for Coach Huggins?" Raese asked Clements in his letter. "Was Drew Payne involved in the process?"
West Virginia Media also televises Huggins' weekly coach's show.
"As a shareholder in West Virginia Media, Coach Huggins got a double bang for his buck when Mr. Luck awarded the contract for his show to West Virginia Media," Raese said in the letter. "Speaking of raises, I note that Oliver Luck also received a substantial increase in pay. Was Mr. Payne involved in any way with Mr. Luck's raise?"
Raese criticized WVU's decision to contract with West Virginia Media for the Gold-Blue football game last April.
"It is my understanding that ESPN wanted to broadcast this past year's spring football game," Raese wrote. "If my understanding is correct, the WVU football program would have received more national attention through such a broadcast."
Raese asked Clements to release documents about how WVU acquired the football stadium scoreboard in 2008.