Parsons split-up inevitable

Let’s face it. There are secrets everywhere.

But the worst kept secret in Morgantown over the past few years was the obvious dissension between Director of Athletics Oliver Luck and now-former deputy AD Mike Parsons.

In fact it was a running joke at Mountaineer football games that seeing Luck and Parsons at an event simultaneously was more rare than witnessing the old gold and blue win a game in its new home-the Big 12 Conference.

Going back to June of 2010 when then-president James P. Clements announced the appointment of Luck, a former-starting quarterback under legendary head coach Don Nehlen, to replace longtime Director of Athletics Eddie Pastilong.

There were those at the university that showed signs of disbelief that Parsons, a graduate of Stonewall Jackson who served in the sports information office at WVU following his graduation from the School of Journalism in 1977, with the Baltimore Colts as an assistant and at Morris Harvey College (now the University of Charleston) as sports information director, was not given more consideration for the position.

Then came rumors surrounding apparent leaks in the department surrounding Luck’s desire to leave the Big East and join the Big 12 as well as his displeasure with then-head football coach Bill Stewart and his desire to bring in then-Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen to take over those same duties in Morgantown and eventually replace Stewart as the Mountaineers head coach.

Whether supported by fact or not, Parsons’ name continued to be bantered about as the source of those (and other) leaks. The split between the two apparently came to a head when the duo clashed over bidding irregularities that surfaced during the initial awarding of third-tier media rights to IMG.

Parsons’ duties were many and it will be interesting to see just how Luck elects to fill the now-empty position. He was the school’s primary liaison to the Big 12 Conference in matters of scheduling, television and daily operations. He offered oversight to the department’s corporate sponsorships, sports communications, ticket sales, marketing, broadcasting and other external operations. And, more importantly, Parsons oversaw the Mountaineer Sports Network (MSN), WVU’s unique former in-house radio, television and internet networks.

Under his guidance, MSN grew into a network that consists of 50 radio and 10 television affiliates that provide coverage of West Virginia football, basketball and other sports.

The same group that was replaced by IMG.

Coincidence? Maybe. But in a generation where divorce rates have grown faster than the gross national product, it was only a matter of time before Parsons was asked to step down from the position which he has held for the past 34 years.

And, yes, this split up appears destined to head to courts (and not the ones where basketball is played) as West Virginia Radio Corp., the parent company of MetroNews, which previously provided a statewide network of affiliates for WVU radio broadcasts of football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball-has litigation pending against Luck, IMG and various WVU administrators involved with the first round of bidding that was nixed by West Virginia’s state attorney general.

Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com