The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

February 21, 2013

Multimedia deal reportedly on hold because of complaint

BECKLEY — The lucrative agreement between West Virginia University and IMG College for the multimedia rights to the school’s athletic events has apparently been put on hold.

According to the Charleston Daily Mail, WVU paused the completion of the agreement Tuesday after Morgantown businessman John Raese wrote a letter to WVU President Jim Clements about what he believed were conflicts in the process. The stoppage, according to the report, is a standard response to a third party protest.

The reported 12-year deal was supposed to be valued at $110 million plus incentives, but Raese, the owner of West Virginia Radio Corp., which has held the radio rights in the past, complained after hearing reports of a partnership between IMG College and West Virginia Media Holdings, which produces the coaches’ shows for men’s basketball and football.

Raese indicated his belief that there was an “appearance of impropriety” because Drew Payne, the chair of WVU’s Board of Governors, previously held a major state and West Virginia Media Holdings, sits on the company’s board of directors and still owns a smaller share of the company.

In a letter to President Clements dated Feb. 21 — which was posted on www.wvmetronews.com, a company owned by Raese’s West Virginia Radio Crop. — Raese asked for the process be closed and rebid.

He stated that none of his companies would be part of the bid process if such a step is made.

Raese also questioned, in the letter, why West Virginia Media was awarded the contract for Bob Huggins’ weekly television show, when Huggins is an investor of the company.

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WVU quarterback Geno Smith will participate in a workout Sunday for scouts and executives at the NFL combine, and he has lofty goals for what he is hoping to prove.

Smith, who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 42 touchdowns as a senior, tossing just six interceptions along the way shot down talk of the 2013 NFL Draft being weak on quarterbacks.

“I don’t know why, but I hear about people saying it’s a weak quarterback class, which is something that I don’t believe in because every quarterback is going to have to make a transition into the NFL one way or another,” Smith told KCSP in Kansas City this week. “That’s all based on the individual. My goal is to be picked No. 1 overall, but, at the same time, wherever I get picked I’m going to come in with the same mentality, same goals in mind. So I’m not really worried about what anyone says, because everyone has an opinion.”

Smith’s opinion, though, is that he is worthy of a team’s top selection.

“I consider myself one of the best at what I do,” he said in the same interview. “You talk about this class, and there are some great guys out there. But my goal is to always separate myself from the rest of the group, and my goal is to be the best wherever I am. Once I go to the next level, I’m going to compete.

“I’m a very humble guy, quiet and I keep to myself. But when it comes down to football, this is something that I love to do, and, quite honestly, I want to be the best at it.”

Smith did not play in the Senior Bowl, despite receiving an invitation, but he’s planning a full workout in front of plenty of watchful eyes today.

“I’m just going to do my best to go out there and showcase who I am, because I have full confidence in my ability on and off the field,” said Smith. “So why not do it at the combine.

“I made this decision and I told everyone that I’m tired of this speculation and I’m ready to go out there and try to end all of that.”

NFL Network will provide live coverage of Sunday’s on-field workouts, which will include running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers, beginning at 9 a.m.

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Has WVU landed a new offensive line coach to replace Bill Bedenbaugh, who left for the same job at Oklahoma?

According to www.coachscoop.com, the new addition might be Ron Crook, who coached offensive tackles and tight ends at Stanford last season.

Although the hire could not be confirmed, it makes sense.

Not only is there a connection between Crook and WVU athletic director Oliver Luck, whose son Andrew played at Stanford, Crook is also a Parkersburg native who has coached at West Virginia Tech, Glenville State and West Liberty in the past.

Crook has worked with offensive line coach Mike Bloomgren at Stanford to help the Cardinal have one of college football’s best offensive fronts.

— E-mail: chuffman@

register-herald.com and follow on Twitter@CamHuffmanRH.

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