Regents debate Sports Medicine Complex Proposals

Monica Kast

President Gary Ransdell’s report at the end of Friday’s Board of Regents meeting turned into a heated discussion involving the Request for Proposals for the Sports Medicine Complex.

At the end of the meeting, Ransdell gave a report and announced the Sports Medicine Complex Request for Proposal was complete and was sent to Frankfort Friday morning for approval from the state. Ransdell said the RFP would be released Monday.

Ransdell also said proposals were due back Oct. 10, calling it a “competitive negotiation,” and they would make a decision within a week of receiving the proposals.

“We do dozens of RFP’s a year about a whole range of services, and this one is no different,” Ransdell said after the meeting. “This was on a tighter time frame because of the need to return to the Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee in Frankfort on Oct. 18.”

WKU also currently has an RFP out for the renovation of the Garrett Conference Center. The requests for that project have been available since mid-July, and will remain open until Oct. 21, according to Gary Meszaros, assistant vice president of business and auxiliary services at WKU.

Last Tuesday WKU pulled its deal with the Medical Center for the Sports Medicine Complex after a legal protest was filed from Western Kentucky Orthopedic and Neurological Associates. Following “lengthy discussion” with Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee, WKU decided to issue RFP’s instead, according to director of Media Relations Bob Skipper.

During the meeting, several Board of Regents members voiced concern about the “tighter time frame,” and the authorization Ransdell had to submit an RFP.

“I don’t see how anyone is prepared to make a competitive bid when it has taken the person that we have structured this around months to make the deal happen,” Regent John Ridley said during the meeting.

Ridley opposed the Sports Medicine Complex deal with the Medical Center in the original vote in August.

Because the topic was not on the Board of Regents meeting agenda, it could not be discussed at that meeting and would require a special meeting to go into more detail.

Ridley called for a special meeting to discuss the Sports Medicine Complex more in depth, which was seconded by student regent Jay Todd Richey. However, after some discussion, Ridley withdrew the request for a special meeting, saying, “It’s going nowhere.”

Richey, however, said he would still like a meeting where the Sports Medicine Complex could be discussed in detail.

“I am disturbed that this has been manipulated,” Richey said. “It concerns me greatly about the time constraints.”

Ridley said he felt the Board of Regents had not voted to give Ransdell the approval to release an RFP. Ridley said the original approval from the Board of Regents was to “approve Ransdell in entering into negotiations.”

“What we discussed and voted on was the president going to a specific group and negotiating and that was what passed,” Ridley said.

Ridley said that by opening up RFP’s, the original agreement and assignment given to Ransdell had changed.

During the meeting, Board of Regents Chair Frederick Higdon asked each of the regents to read the Board of Regents bylaws, and said the Board of Regents “has never been involved with RFP’s.”

Several regents voiced concerns that the RFP’s would lead to an eventual contract with WKU, but Ransdell said they would “see what proposals come in.”

Despite concerns about the short timeframe to accept RFP’s, Ransdell said releasing RFP’s on this timeline was legal.

“We’re meeting all the minimum standards for an RFP,” Ransdell said, adding that “there’s nothing that says an RFP has to go on for months, and all the parties have known about this project since January.”

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @monicakastwku.