CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Morgantown businessman John Raese filed a formal protest Friday over West Virginia University's bid for a new media rights contract, while accusing WVU leaders of operating under a "veil of secrecy."
Raese, whose radio company was an unsuccessful bidder for WVU's third-tier media rights, urged the university's Board of Governors to disqualify IMG College from bidding a second time.
Earlier this week, WVU announced it would re-bid the multimillion-dollar contract after West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a report concluding that university officials -- including athletic director Oliver Luck and Board of Governor's Chairman Drew Payne -- violated purchasing and ethics rules while reaching a deal with Winston Salem, N.C.-based IMG College.
"Luck's overall management of the media rights bid proposal has led WVU to its biggest, most embarrassing procurement mess in school history," Raese told WVU board members in a letter sent Friday.
On Monday, WVU scrapped a tentative media rights deal with IMG College, which planned to partner with West Virginia Media Holdings of Charleston. Morrisey is representing the university amid the contract dispute.
"We need somebody who's external, a third-party independent investigator to look into this," said Bob Gwynne, a lawyer for Raese-owned Greer Industries. "There are just too many things that we do not know."
WVU officials would not comment Friday.
Raese alleged that Morrisey's report withheld numerous documents that would shed more light on how WVU reached the media deal with IMG College - a contract valued at $110 million over 12 years.
At WVU President Jim Clements' request, the school withheld numerous emails written by Luck, Payne and West Virginia Media President Bray Cary, Raese said.
"What other facts have been withheld from the public?" Raese asked in the letter. "Why must WVU continue to operate under a veil of secrecy?"
Morrisey's office stood by the report Friday, saying that WVU could have withheld the entire document. The attorney general also didn't release emails between the president of Raese's company, West Virginia Radio Corp., and a WVU athletic department assistant director, said Morrisey spokeswoman Beth Ryan.
"The university did not hold back any relevant findings in our report," Ryan said. "WVU accepted all of the attorney general's findings and allowed them to be disclosed, a position it was not required to take."
Morrisey's report found "significant errors and sloppiness" by WVU officials when they reviewed bids and selected IMG College to handle the university's media rights. However, Morrisey didn't find any criminal wrongdoing, saying the mistakes appeared "unintentional."
Luck, who headed a three-member committee evaluating the media rights bids, added three new members to the panel amid the review.
Two of the three original committee members didn't get to vote on the contract award. Also, the committee scrapped its scoring system and selected IMG based on "group consensus," according to Morrisey's report.
"Any purchasing professional can tell you that these are not acceptable purchasing practices," Raese said in his letter. "Altering the makeup of the evaluation committee during the process . . . can lead to bigger problems such as bid rigging."
The attorney general's report revealed that Luck updated Payne about the media rights contract -- before and after WVU solicited bids.
Payne serves on West Virginia Media's board of directors and stood to gain financially if IMG secured the media rights contract and subcontracted work to West Virginia Media, which owns four television stations across the state.