The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

State News

August 7, 2013

Judge removed from WVU lawsuit

MORGANTOWN — To avoid any appearance of impropriety, the state Supreme Court has assigned a new judge to handle West Virginia Radio Corp.’s lawsuit over a new media rights contract for certain athletic events at West Virginia University.

The radio network last month demanded the disqualification of Monongalia County Circuit Judge Phillip Gaujot because of a clash he had with Bob Gwynne, an attorney for the network’s parent company, nearly 26 years ago.

Media outlets report that the high court on Tuesday assigned Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas C. Evans III to temporarily oversee the case.

Chief Justice Brent Benjamin ruled the radio network’s allegations “are sufficient to warrant such a disqualification to avoid even an appearance of impropriety.”

West Virginia Radio tried to stop both North Carolina-based IMG College, which recently won the 12-year contract, and Bray Cary’s West Virginia Media Holdings TV network from bidding on the work.

WVU’s broadcasts had been handled by the university-operated Mountaineer Sports Network, which works closely with West Virginia Radio. The network, owned by Morgantown businessman John Raese, called the bidding process a sham.

It was WVU’s second attempt to strike a deal. The school was forced to rebid the contract after a review by the state Attorney General’s Office found “significant errors and sloppiness” in how the first deal with IMG was crafted.

Cary has asked the court to dismiss him from the case, arguing that he’s a public official and wasn’t properly notified of the intent to sue.

West Virginia Media is a subcontractor under the new contract, which guarantees WVU will receive at least $86.5 million over the life of the deal.

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