For the time being, at least, John Raese has gotten his way. Yesterday, WVU was compelled to halt, for the time being, at least, the finalization of its Tier 3 contract with IMG College.
This is not a cancellation. It was explained to me as a “procedural pause.”
However, the stoppage is a standard and built-in response to a third party protesting the awarding of a contract at WVU – in this case, businessman John Raese’s letter asking that WVU President Jim Clements look over what Raese believed was a conflicted process.
Upon receipt of the letter, WVU’s Procurement, Contracting and Payment Services, which oversees bids and contracts, was obligated to conduct a review. One source said the review could take up to two weeks.
Nobody at WVU could be reached upon my late landing in Pittsburgh late Tuesday — save Drew Payne, who, on business in California, declined comment — but I was told this morning WVU sent a letter to Team Raese explaining the evaluation and that contacting the protesting party is also standard.
So this is going to linger for a while and I’m now interested in what happens next.
For instance, I didn’t know Raese’s challenge would trigger a review. So now I wonder to what extent this travels.
In his letter, Raese raises some specific and, to me, curious points. Seriously, check the synopsis.
WVU is apparently obligated to examine all his allegations. Does WVU formally, openly reveal its findings? And isn’t that the best practice at this juncture? Just put it all out there, right?
So will WVU explain why it chose West Virginia Media over ESPN to televise the spring game? I can get Raese’s concern at what he projects as an improper precedent, but there is a logical explanation the Mountaineers might want to provide.
But what about this?
Raese asked Clements to release documents about how WVU acquired the football stadium scoreboard in 2008.
“We question whether persons or their relatives having an association with [West Virginia] Media may have been involved in this process,” Raese wrote.
Uh, that’s awfully specific. If there’s disclosure, what might that reveal? And then what reaction might that unearth?
On and on this could go.
I suppose the good part about this, the intended consequence, is that WVU has backed itself into the corner for perhaps two weeks, rides this things out, comes back saying the procurement office believes everything is and was legitimate and that there was no impropriety.
At that point, WVU can, at long last, say, “We’re done here. We’ve done everything above board. We’ve exercised all our internal checks. We’ve found no wrongdoing. Let’s start banking checks.”
But then again, that leads to this:
Raese hold a massive chip. He has the most and best radio stations for the lucrative radio broadcast rights he will no longer hold. Someone has to apply those rights somewhere and all along we figured IMG could and would use Raese’s West Virginia Radio Corp.
But is Raese genuinely offended by what he alleges and probably believes to be true? Is he so deeply bothered, so far down the road, that he won’t do business with WVU/IMG College, if even for mutual benefit, because he doesn’t want to assist what he professes is a flawed entity?
Or is this just a temper tantrum and it’s all show until he sees the dough?