MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -– WVU’s Board of Governors (BOG) is asking a judge to stop West Virginia Radio Corp. (WVRC) and its general counsel from publishing open letters critical of WVU signed by WVRC owner and director John Raese.
WVU filed the motion Monday, in Monongalia County Circuit Court, West Virginia Business Court Division. The case is before Judge Thomas C. Evans III, of Jackson County.
WVRC has sued the BOG, IMG College LLC, West Virginia Media Holdings and others about various procurement issues, including the awarding of third-tier media rights to IMG.
In March, WVU said, Raese sent a private letter to WVU President E. Gordon Gee. But he then published three paid ads in The Dominion Post, which WVU terms open letters to WVU administration, on April 23, June 5 and June 8.
The April 23 letter is on Greer Industries letterhead, indicates it was paid for by WVRC and is addressed to Gee. WVU alleges the ad makes personal-character attacks on WVU athletic director Oliver Luck. Raese’s MetroNews then published the letter on its website as part of news coverage of the ad.
The June 5 and 8 ads are identical. They also appear on Greer letterhead, are addressed to Gee and say they were paid for by WVRC. WVU said these ads also attack Luck and allege retaliatory actions by WVU against Raese and others.
WVU says that deposition of WVRC General Counsel J. Robert Gwynne reveals he wrote the initial draft of the first ad and reviewed its contents with Raese.
WVU argues and requests that WVRC should be stopped from publishing further “extrajudicial statements” because they are clearly aimed at tainting a potential jury, given The Dominion Post’s circulation in Monongalia County.
The Dominion Post President and Publisher Dave Raese said that the letters did not meet the newspaper’s editorial standards for story material or for traditional letters to the editor.
“Consequently, paid advertisements were the only publishing options,” he said.
Raese likened the letter ads to political advertisements in that the content does not reflect the opinion of the newspaper…