Blog Entry

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

Posted on: May 4, 2011 5:05 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 5:06 pm

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Yesterday, the United States Department of Justice issued a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert and BCS executive Bill Hancock, asking why the FBS (formerly I-A football) did not have a postseason playoff, among other questions. The DOJ has not introduced a formal case against the NCAA, nor has it announced any future plans to bring one, but this letter, reprinted in full below, makes it appear that simply declaring confidence that no antitrust laws are being broken, as Hancock has done in the past, may no longer a viable option for the NCAA or BCS.

The letter is also available in PDF form from the Utah attorney general's office here


Antitrust Division 
Assistant Attorney General 
RFK Main Justice Building 
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. 
Washington, D.C.  20530-0001 
(202)514-2401/  (202)616-2645 (Fax) 

May 3, 2011 

Mark A. Emmert, Ph.D. 
National Collegiate Athletic Association 
P.O. Box 6222 
Indianapolis, IN 46206 

Dear Dr. Emmert:

Serious questions continue to arise suggesting that the current Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system may not be conducted consistent with the competition principles expressed in the federal antitrust laws. The Attorney General of Utah has announced an intention to file an antitrust lawsuit against the BCS. In addition, we recently received a request to open an investigation of the BCS from a group of twenty-one professors, a copy of which is attached. Other prominent individuals also have publicly encouraged the Antitrust Division to take action aggainst the BCS, arguing that it violates the antitrust laws.

On March 2, 2011, the New York Times reported that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was "willing to help create a playoff format to decide a national championship for the top level of college football." In that context, it would be helpful for us to understand your views and/or plans on the following:

  1. Why does the Football Bowl Subdivision not have a playoff, when so many other NCAA sports have NCAA-run playoffs or championships?
  2. What steps, if any, has the NCAA taken to create a playoff among Football Bowl Subdivision programs before or during your tenure? To the extent any steps were taken, why were they not successful? What steps does the NCAA plan to take to create a playoff at this time?
  3. Have you determined that there are aspects of the BCS system that do not serve the interests of fans, colleges, universities, and players? To what extent could an alternative system better serve those interests?

Your views would be relevant in helping us to determine the best course of action with regard to the BCS. Therefore, we thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.


Christine A. Varney

cc:   Bill Hancock 

BCS executive director


Since: Dec 4, 2007
Posted on: May 8, 2011 6:08 pm

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

Unfortunately, none of you do-gooders understand what is legal and possible. By definition, it is impossible for a group that includes 100% of the participants to collude against itself. Anti-trust means a subset of the entire population of participants (in this case, all of the Division 1A members) would get together and decide to screw the rest of the population. That is not the case here. Every single member of Division 1A has signed onto the BCS system. That means, by legal definition, there cannot be an anti-trust situation. 
I just love how the knucklehead from the DOJ quote HALF of the quotation, the other half being about IF the member institutions decide to have a playoff ...  Varney's a liar, and the worst kind: an uninformed and totally ignorant one.  She should slither away under her lawyer rock where she belongs and leave college football alone.
Her questions are all written in a "Do you still beat your wife?" format. Totally wrong premises ...
Idiot !!!

Since: May 5, 2011
Posted on: May 5, 2011 1:30 pm

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

A men brother!  BCS = BS 
Its like this as a true college football fan I as well as other fans would enjoy a playoff system...I am so sick and tired of spending an hour or so watching the bowl game selection on tv and seeing how disfunctional the system is, and how schools get cheated out of playing for a national title.  Sure I'm a UF fan and I love my Gators but the reality is I much rather them play in a playoff and fight to be crowned champions then just given the chance to play for the National Title.  Teams across the board wether it is UF or Boise or Troy to Baylor should have an opportunity to play in a playoff system (if good enough to get there) and shoot for a National Title game!

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: May 5, 2011 1:12 pm

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

Bill Hancock’s reaction to the letter to the NCAA from the Department of Justice - "Goodness gracious, with all that's going on in the world right now and with national and state budgets being what they are, it seems like a waste of taxpayers' money to have the government looking into how college football games are played".

Typical attitude of someone involved in an enterprise where they know that what they are getting away with is totally wrong.  Don’t address the issues; rather try and deflect focus and sidetrack the discussion.  Mr. Hancock is a joke and it’s a travesty that he collects a six figure salary as the head of a non-profit organization that provides us with one scandal after the next.  Let’s hope that the Department of Justice finally exposes the BCS for the fraud that it is. 

Under the current BCS system, all schools do not have equal access to the national championship game and all the monetary benefits that accompany participation in BCS bowl games.  Just asks teams like Utah and Boise State who have gone undefeated 3 times in the last decade and were never given a shot at the national championship game when there were teams selected to play that had losses on their records.  A playoff is the only fair answer.

There have been multiple examples of how the BCS and the NCAA are complicit in their actions in protecting the current corrupt system.  (i.e. suspending and reinstating Cam Newton in the same week last year to avoid having him miss any time and allowing ineligible players for Ohio State to play in the Sugar Bowl last year). 

The tax exempt status that is afforded the BCS and its bowls is a joke.  BCS officials are grossly overpaid (not the norm for tax-exempt organizations) and there is a lack of control over business activities (see the meetings held at Arizona based strip clubs and listed as proper business expenses by Fiesta Bowl execs).  The time has come to end all the B.S.  The BCS should be dissolved in favor of a playoff system.  The Department of Justice should not stop there.  It should yank the tax exempt status from college football and allow profits from college football to help reduce the nation’s deficit.  In addition, the BCS member institutions that have unfairly profited from the BCS system should be required to repay monies that they unjustly received; funds that have given them unfair advantages in recruiting, improving their facilities and recruiting coaches away from non-BCS institutions.

Since: Jan 18, 2007
Posted on: May 5, 2011 12:38 pm

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

mutsbegood, this government involvement in the BCS is due to the Antitrust Act.  It is a law that exists PURELY to prevent things like BCS from happening.

It is football and the government probably has better things to worry about given the times, but we all know the BCS is a monopoly on the sport, and with so much money filtering through the universities and bowl foundations, it's about time the public gets what they have been paying for.  This is the reason government must regulate business, and not the other way around.

Say what you will about government being too big, but public dollars go to these games and we are unintentinoally supporting a corrupt system.  The government shouldn't have to address college football, but the law exists and the BCS stands within their jurisdiction.  This shouldn't have to happen, but it does, and maybe that alone says more about our political system than anything else.

You know that old saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it?"  Well, the BCS has always been broken and has always needed fixing.  The fans can't do it, so I guess the congressmen goodly enough to apply the law as it should be will have to do it for us, since the law is the only thing that talks louder than money (and even then, only part the time). 

The business side of college football should NOT supercede the sport itself or the fans paying to keep it going.  Unfortunately, it has.  Time to wipe it all clean.

Since: Apr 28, 2009
Posted on: May 5, 2011 10:18 am

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

Overriding anger at government?  Now why would you think that?  I'm probably a racist, that doesn't want a black president will be your next statement. 

The schools that participate in the BCS, may be State funded or private institutions, but they are also non-profit.  They are not taxed by local, State, or Federal authorities.  So where is the justification for a Federal investigation?  

This is a very slippery slope, and should government get involved, we might as well have a Sports Czar to determine if the grass being used on the fields of play was union planted or not.  If the grass wasn't planted by a union member, we should boycott the game.  

Since: Feb 4, 2011
Posted on: May 5, 2011 10:16 am

shutup stupid

I agree with mustbegood

We should stop funding universities immediatly, and tax the crap out of them and the BCS

Long live Sarah Palin!

Since: May 5, 2011
Posted on: May 5, 2011 9:14 am

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

This isn't "the private sector."  The majority of schools that play Division I football are PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS.  Your overriding anger at government has shifted your brain into neutral.

Since: Apr 28, 2009
Posted on: May 5, 2011 8:43 am

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

Get the Federal Government out of the private sector. PERIOD! 

Over the last 20 years the size of government, both State and Federal, has grown to unbelievable proportions.  Do you guys want a Secretary of Sports as a Cabinet position?  Given the opportunity to do so, the politicians both Democrat and Republican, would love to "provide assistance" (code name for control) to the BCS, NCAA, NHL, NFL, MLB, WWF, Horse Racing, Boxing, PGA, etc.  After all, the government knows what is best for us.

I'm sure there is a plan in the works to have a tax to help those schools that lost money attending bowl games, and provide assistance to retired pro sports participants.  After all, they provide the public with entertainment.  We must keep the public happy.  Don't worry, the administration will take care of everything...they got our backs.

Just think about the precedent being developed here.     

Since: May 5, 2011
Posted on: May 5, 2011 8:36 am

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

First off lets take a look at college football today we have over 30 bowl games, and well over half of them are pointless.  If a playoff system where introduced that wouldn't kill college football it would make college football better because: 1) IT WOULD CROWN A TRUE CHAMPION 2) It would allow teams such as Troy University that is always on the top of the Sunbelt Conference a chance to make a run...and creditably notied Troy is not a push over team...they have gone to war with several top ranked programs and have battaled to the last minute 3)  It would give fans such as myself (I am a Proud UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA FAN AND ALUMNI) a chance to see who is the "Best of the Best" instead of some calculated computer formula that really doesn't make any actual since 4)  Revenue would almost double if not triple because of loyal fans such as myself would love to go to several playoff games..even if it wasn't my team (how man people go to the super bowl or a nfl playoff game because they enjoy football and the atmospher?) 5)  The current BCS (crap system) always puts teams such as Ohio State in the top 10 and no one can figure that out why that is...its not because their that good honestly and the sad part is they had the luxuary of playing for a National Title twice back to back seasons and both times were crushed!!! by SEC teams UF! and LSU!  6)  We have 3 or 4 weeks of watching pointless bowl games to wait for the National Title Game (enough time to have a good playoff something worth watching verse the Cheez it bowl or some crap like that)
So my rebuttle to you is:  Why not have a playoff system? Are you a bolw game junkie that thinks that every one should win kinda attitued? (this isn't TEE BALL) What are you and the other BCS junkies afraid of? And for the love of God what makes you think a playoff system would kill college football? (that is a bunch of crap about as bad as the BCS)

Since: Nov 2, 2006
Posted on: May 5, 2011 12:57 am

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

I hope the Big 6 step up and tell her to stick it, we're never having a playoff and if forced we're gonna start our own division.  Really put those whiners in their place, at least Utah has the guts to join a real conference.  Outside of Boise who really gives a sh*t how that useless program does or any of those other bottom feeders.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or