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

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

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

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Antitrust Division 
CHRISTINE A. VARNEY 
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. 
President 
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.

Sincerely,

Christine A. Varney

cc:   Bill Hancock 

BCS executive director

Posted on: May 4, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 12:56 pm
 

Hawaii could join Shurtleff BCS lawsuit

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff's long-gestating antitrust lawsuit against the BCS may finally have found itself a co-plaintiff.

The emphasis here is on "may." But after months and months of searching for more state A.G.'s to join the suit, Shurtleff can say that Hawaii is at least considering it:
Shurtleff said he and Hawaii AG David M. Louie "talked at length" about the suit at a national attorney general's meeting in March and "he (Louie) was very interested."

Subsequently, Shurtleff said, "we've heard from his staff and we're working on an agreement to be able to share information with them confidentially."

A spokesman for Louie's office said, "We're still looking into it."

Shurtleff said "I'm hopeful many states will join us and I'd love to have Hawaii join us."

You'll note that this is still far from a done deal; as enthusiastic as Shurtleff sounds, until Louie's office makes a statment more positive than "we're still looking into it," there's no chickens to be counted here just yet.

But Shurtleff can at least say he's in the ear of someone who might support him, which is more than he's been able to say since he first announced his plans following Utah's uncrowned, undefeated 2008 season.

The support of other states might be that much more important, too, now that it can't be nearly so big an issue in Shurtleff's own. The Utes have since joined the Pac-12, of course, and thanks to the league's ginormous new TV deal stand to make some $17 million per year off television alone thanks to that membership. Even if Utah State (and Hawaii) stand to benefit, will Shurtleff's constituency really stand for his office's time and funding go towards a suit that would aim at taking BCS money out of the Utes' pockets?

As of today, the answer appears to be yes. But if Shurtleff is forced to go it alone without the likes of Hawaii's or any other A.G.'s assistance, we have to wonder.

Posted on: April 28, 2011 2:34 pm
 

Eye on CFB Roundtable: Who's No. 1?

By Eye on College Football Bloggers

Each week, the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron-style to answer a pressing question regarding the wild, wide world of college football. This week's topic:

With a few scattered exceptions, spring practice is in the books. As we enter summer and start looking at the 2011 season in earnest, let's start that looking at the top: who deserves to be the preseason No. 1?

Tom Fornelli: If I were forced to choose a number one team at gunpoint like I am now, I would have to agree with most people and go with Oklahoma. 

The Big 12 just got a little easier to navigate now that Nebraska is gone and there's no longer a conference championship game to get through. Texas is coming off of a down year, and while I think they'll be improved in 2011, I think last year showed that the Longhorns aren't ready to compete for a national title again right away.

Which leaves Oklahoma, returning both Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles on offense, without much resistance in the Big 12. Yes, there's Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, but I don't see Oklahoma State making a key defensive stop when it needs one against the Sooners. As for the Aggies, I just don't trust Mike Sherman yet. So I don't think it's insane to believe that the Sooners are going to get through the season without a loss in 2011. That's enough to make them my extremely premature preseason No. 1.

Adam Jacobi: I agree with Tom. OU doesn't have everybody back, but they have enough to navigate a pretty lackluster Big 12 Which Is Now Actually 10. Look out for Alabama too, because Trent Richardson is going to have an absolutely monster year. But we'll need to see how the quarterback situation shakes out before tossing out terms like "top-ranked" to describe that team.

Bryan Fischer:  I think it's easy to peg Oklahoma as the pre-season No. 1, but that doesn't mean I'd pencil - and I do mean pencil - them in at the top. The Sooners do return their quarterback in Jones, a dynamic threat at receiver in Broyles and a great defensive leader in linebacker Travis Lewis. Their schedule does set up well for them, outside of a dangerous trip to Tallahassee to take on a Florida State team they beat 47-17 last year. 

That said, I have to go with Alabama. Let's face it: the champion at the end of the year usually comes from the SEC, so that's a good place to start. The Crimson Tide have to break in a new quarterback but I think the schedule will allow them to ease into things, with the big road game at Penn State teaching them to handle a hostile crowd. Plus, either guy gets to hand off to the best running back in the country in Richardson. The defense should be great again and they get both LSU and Arkansas at home.

AJ: I suppose this necessitates the question of by "No. 1," whether we're choosing the best team in Week 1 or the most likely team to run the table. Because I'm feeling OU more for the former and UA for the latter. But it's a good philosophical question regardless. Thoughts?

Chip Patterson:  I think that this far out from the regular season, you have to define "No. 1" as the team most prepared to win the title right now. In my eyes, that is Oklahoma. 

However, I would agree that Alabama - and also LSU - could find themselves in another SEC West dogfight should Florida State knock off Oklahoma in Tallahassee. Florida State is far from the team that got worked in Norman a year ago, returning 18 starters from a team that beat SEC East champion South Carolina in the Chick Fil-A Bowl. If Oklahoma slips to the Seminoles early in the season, then the Bayou Bengals' trip to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5 becomes another one of those marquee SEC regular season bloodbaths which have become an annual event the last couple seasons. 

But until they slip and fall, the Sooners look most prepared to run the table right now - and they are my No. 1.

Jerry Hinnen: Adam's question is one that it would be nice for the mainstream polls to answer for us with some kind of stated policy, as opposed to their current "Do What You Feel" preseason approach. My take is that it's more fair to start the season with (as Chip says) the best team at the top regardless of schedule, then adjust as the season results pour in.  But it's much more fun to try and predict who'll wind up standing atop the mountain when all is said and done.

So that's what I'll do, and I'll also predict "Alabama." I don't expect the Tide to run the table against the strongest single division in college football (even with Auburn taking a step back, there's still LSU, underrated Arkansas and ever-improving Mississippi State plus an Iron Bowl on the road), but after two years with a BCS national title game matching up undefeated opponents, we're overdue for at least one one-loss team to make the championship tilt. And once an SEC team gets that far, it's been the safest of bets -- to-date -- to take that final step to the crystal football.

Two final points to wrap things up:

1. At the very least, we've got a consensus on who the top two teams are. Our colleague Dennis Dodd named LSU his early-early No. 1,  but after seeing Jordan Jefferson continue to flail in the Tigers' spring game, it's hard to see them coming out of Tuscaloosa with a win. And behind those three, is there anyone else we'd feel comfortable naming as a contender? Oregon has suffered major defensive losses; Ohio State could face the entire season without Jim Tressel; Stanford and Oklahoma State and Nebraska have all undergone substantial offensive coaching overhauls; and at the mid-major level, TCU and Boise State were (probably) both better a year ago.

In fact, it might be Florida State that's better positioned to make a run than any of those teams. Which brings me to my next point:

2. Even if the overall nonconference slate is more cupcake-laden than ever, we have not one but two games in September -- LSU hosting Oregon and the aforementioned Sooners-Seminoles clash -- matching up legitimate top-10 teams with national title aspirations. That's two more than most years, so you won't hear any complaints about 2011's non-league scheduling from me.

Posted on: April 22, 2011 4:26 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), 4/22

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every Friday we catch up on four stories you might have missed during the week ... and add a few extra links to help take you into the weekend.

FOUR LINKS

1.
Want a quarterback? Like Clemson's Tajh Boyd (pictured)? You might want to head to the state of Virginia, which despite its relatively small recruiting profile could produce starters at as many as seven different BCS programs, including potential national title contenders Alabama and Florida State. (The class of 2012 might tend more towards wideouts, though; both the Virginia-based members of Tom Lemming's top 100 are receivers.)

2. Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier is a funny guy. On why the Broncos are joining the Mountain West rather than the Pac-12: "We’ve applied for membership into the NFL. … The truth is schools must be invited into a conference. You don’t get to just join a conference like you can go and join Costco.” Of course, it was his less-amusing, more-serious remarks on the lack of a college football playoff that made headlines.

3. We found out this week that both Auburn and Alabama are going to take a trip to the White House this year; the Tigers to see President Obama as national champions, of course, but Penn State announced that the Tide's Week 2 visit to Beaver Stadium will also be to a "White House." It will the first white-out for the Nittany Lions since 2009, but they maybe should have picked a different opponent, at least if the Tide's infamous 2008 throttling of Georgia during a "black-out" is in any way indicative.

4. The lead item in this Tulsa World post-spring notebook on Oklahoma concerns the Sooners trying to fill the Thanksgiving week hole in their schedule, but the most interesting item comes at the notebook's end, when we discover that Bob Stoops once hitchhiked "several hundred miles" to see Bob Seger in concert.

"I put the name of the city on some cardboard around my tennis racket," Stoops said, "and went out to the highway, held up the racket and hitched a ride to the concert." So if he ever chooses to kick against the wind for no apparent reason, you'll know why.

AND A CLOUD ...

Navy's spring game will air tonight on our own CBS Sports Network, with a few twists ... And speaking of the Midshipmen, Ken Niumatalolo has signed a long-term extension , though the non-release of details means we don't know for much or for how long ...The first wave of Ohio State Tatgate smack shirts is hitting store racks and Internet shopping carts ...  Colorado was the first school to go all-HD this spring when it comes to practice film, a move that's made post-practice film study much quicker and easier, the Buff coaches say ... Mike Slive reiterates that he expects the SEC to "do something more than we have done up to now" to curb oversigning ... Yes, Virginia, it is possible for a football program to attend the Humanitarian Bowl and turn a profit; Northern Illinois (somehow) just did it ... The go-to reporter for news on Chad Bumphis's ankle injury scare at Mississippi State was Chad Bumphis ... Every school keeps things simple during their spring games, but "simple" means something different at Boise State ... A look at which SEC schools are getting the biggest financial boost from their boosters ... All-American Big 12 receiver Justin Blackmon interviews All-American Big 12 receiver Ryan Broyles, and finds out Broyles' favorite XBox game is FIFA?!?


Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:09 pm
 

Fiesta Bowl's fate could be known in May

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Fiesta Bowl has been in the news a lot recently, and for all the wrong reasons. A report was released last month that showed that the bowl had been reimbursing employees for political contributions, which is a violation of election laws and the bowl games non-profit status. The CEO of the Fiesta Bowl, John Junker, was fired following the story for overseeing everything that had taken place, along with some questionable spending habits.

Since then the BCS has put together a seven-member panel to do it's own investigation of the Fiesta Bowl and figure out what is to be done with the game in the future. More specifically, whether or not the Fiesta Bowl will remain a member of the BCS, or if it will be replaced by another bowl game, possibly the Cotton Bowl.

Well, according to Penn State president Graham Spanier, who is the head of the BCS' committee, we may not have to wait all that long to find out. In an interview with the AP on Tuesday, Spanier said that hopes we know the fate of the Fiesta Bowl by mid-May.

"We do not expect to have this drawn out very long," Spanier told the AP. "There's a lot at stake for everyone. It's in everyone's interest to move this discussion along quickly."

The committee will have the final say in the fate of the Fiesta Bowl. Aside from Spanier, the committee also includes Northern Illinois President John Peters, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto, Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters, and athletic directors Jeremy Foley of Florida, Bob Bowlsby of Stanford and Richard Giannani of Southern Mississippi.

Posted on: April 13, 2011 11:38 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 12:09 pm
 

Professors ask Justice Dept. to investigate BCS

Posted by Chip Patterson

A group of law and economics professors have pulled together to ask the United State Department of Justice to investigate the BCS antitrust law.

According to the Wall Street Journal , 21 different professionals signed a letter to the DOJ that accuses the BCS of securing access and revenue for its favored members. A copy of the letter was provided to the WSJ , who reported on the professors' argument .

The professors claim that the BCS's control of access to the most important postseason games shields major-conference schools from competition and injures schools in the five non-major conferences, whose champions aren't guaranteed a BCS berth and have never appeared in the BCS title game. Consumers also are being harmed, the professors allege, because college football's lack of a playoff limits output. "Consumers aren't getting what they want," said Dan Rascher of the University of San Francisco.
This is not the first time that efforts have been made to get the government involved with the BCS. Over a year ago the department claimed they were determining whether or not to investigate the BCS, since then there has been no official action taken.

"We have not heard anything from anyone at Justice," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said . "We believe that's because they have concluded that the BCS does comply with the law."

The fairness of the BCS has only come under more heat recently with the firing of Fiesta Bowl president John Junker over allegations of financial improprieties. With more stories leaking out about lavish spending and gifts for BCS bowl officials, the squeaky clean facade of the BCS has been wiped away from their public image.

The Fiesta Bowl scandal is far from completed, and my guess is the events from the last six months may be enough to induce some changes in the structure. But if the BCS' "answer" is to switch out the Fiesta for the Cotton Bowl, there will still be much more work to do before the flaws are fixed. This letter from top law and economics professors won't get the job done alone, but at least it is a start.
Posted on: April 5, 2011 9:05 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 9:09 pm
 

Fiesta Bowl has a date with the NCAA

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Oh the things we've learned about the Fiesta Bowl and its former CEO John Junker in recent weeks. I mean, how the hell do you spend $33,000 on a birthday party and only $1,200 during a trip to a strip club? What kind of sense does that make? Of course, while I'd like an answer to those questions, there are other questions the NCAA would like answered about the Fiesta Bowl's hedonistic habits, and it'll have its chance to find out on April 28th.

That's when the NCAA subcommitee in charge of licensing bowl games will be meeting with Fiesta Bowl officials in New Orleans, and the meeting could result in some strong consequences for the bowl game.
Dennis Poppe, NCAA vice president of baseball and football, told The Arizona Republic on Tuesday that the Fiesta Bowl had been invited to meet with the 11-member group.
He told the newspaper the Fiesta could potentially have its four-year license revoked, though in the past licenses had only been revoked because of financial or attendance problems.
The meeting is in response to a report commissioned by the Arizona-based game that led to the firing of its longtime president for alleged misuse of funds.
The Fiesta Bowl also released a statement in response to the meeting.

"We look forward to meeting with the NCAA to answer any questions about the Special Committee report, and to discuss the new bylaws, policies and controls that the board of directors has put in place to prevent the activities described in the report from occurring again."

I'm not sure why the Fiesta Bowl would be looking forward to this meeting seeing what the consequences could be, but what has the Fiesta Bowl done lately to prove to any of us it knows what it's doing? Though, admittedly, I don't think there's any chance that the Fiesta Bowl will have it's license revoked. Odds are that if there is any real punishment, it would end up being something like a one-year probation, which would mean a season without the Fiesta Bowl. 

According to NCAA bylaw 18.7.2.6: "The Football Issues Committee shall prepare licensing documents that require the management of each postseason bowl game to enter into a contractual agreement through the NCAA licensing program. This agreement stipulates that the bowl management agrees to comply with the NCAA's principles for the conduct of intercollegiate athletics, as set forth in Constitution 2 and relevant bylaws and interpretations, and with the restrictions on game negotiations in Bylaw 18.7 in consideration for receiving licensing of its postseason bowl game."

The NCAA could also decide to let the game be played and take 50% of the gate (pages 16-17 here). If the NCAA did decide to put the game on probation, then it would also be possible that the BCS would go ahead and replace the Fiesta Bowl with the Cotton Bowl, as some have speculated.
Posted on: March 30, 2011 7:58 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 8:03 pm
 

PAC: Other BCS bowls guilty of irregular spending

Posted by Adam Jacobi

On the heels of the nightmare investigative report released by the Fiesta Bowl yesterday, there's been a great deal of consideration as to whether the Fiesta Bowl should retain its BCS status, or whether the controversy surrounding the bowl is too much for the BCS to deal with.

The BCS has established a task force on the issue and has tasked the Fiesta Bowl with proving that it deserves its BCS status, which certainly seems appropriate, but now the question is whether the rest of the BCS bowls are clean, or if the abuses are more systemic. Thus, the BCS finds itself in the difficult position of deciding whether or not to subject the other BCS bowls to heightened, public scrutiny. If the other bowls can survive an investigation, it makes the BCS look better, but if they can't we may have a house of cards situation, and one of the BCS's main priorities has always been self-preservation.

Unfortunately for the BCS, the Playoff PAC has no such compunction about whether to publicly scrutinize the BCS bowls, and recently released this statement about curious spending practices at those institutions. There's no allegations of campaign finance abuse, but if that's the best thing you can say about the bowls' case, they're not in a good spot. The release is printed in its entirety below.

The BCS's Fiesta Bowl fired its long-time CEO yesterday after an internal investigation revealed that the BCS Bowl used its charitable funds to unlawfully reimburse employees' political contributions and pay for top executives' weddings, four-day junkets to Pebble Beach, and four personal country club memberships.  The Bowl's internal inquiry was initiated to "investigate the myriad allegations raised by Playoff PAC" in the PAC's legal complaints filed with the Arizona Secretary of State and the Internal Revenue Service.

Playoff PAC co-founder Matthew Sanderson said: "In the interest of self-preservation, the BCS is now painting this Fiesta Bowl scandal as isolated misconduct. This is wrong. Public records show the BCS's Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl are also legally and ethically troubled. Any BCS effort to expel the Fiesta Bowl would be a hypocritical act, given the documented irregularities at these other BCS Bowls. And who's to say we won't find the same type of shockingly questionable behavior when the curtain is peeled back at the BCS's Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl?"

THE BCS'S ORANGE BOWL AND SUGAR BOWL IRREGULARITIES

Playoff PAC found the following with respect to the BCS's Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl, which have both organized themselves as public charities to obtain federal tax benefits:

  • The Orange Bowl sponsors an annual Caribbean Cruise that the Bowl itself describes as a "complimentary getaway" for Bowl staff and college football officials that features no business meetings.
  • One out of every $10 that the Sugar Bowl takes in ends up in the hands of its top 3 executives.
  • Sugar Bowl Exec. Dir. Paul Hoolahan received $645,386 in FY 2009, a year in which the Sugar Bowl lost money despite receiving a $1.4 million government grant. Mr. Hoolahan collected $25,000 more than the Rose Bowl's top three executives combined.
  • BCS Bowls use charitable funds to fly Bowl execs and spouses first-class, pay private club dues, and foot the bill for employees' personal income taxes. The Orange Bowl, for example, spent 756,546 on travel in FY 2009 for its personnel.
  • The Orange Bowl spent $331,938 on "parties" and "summer splash" in FY 2004, $42,281 on "golf" in FY 2004 and FY 2006, $535,764 on "gifts" in FY 2006, and $472,627 on "gifts" in FY 2008.
  • The Sugar Bowl benefited its insiders by paying six-figure sums for Bowl meetings and an average of $432,723 for "Football Committee" expenses the past three years.
  • The Sugar Bowl spent $201,226 on "gifts and bonuses" and $330,244 on "decorations" in FY 2008.   

Aside from these expenses, both BCS Bowls repeatedly describe expenses with vague verbiage. Given the Fiesta Bowl's revelations yesterday about questionable expenses that were once tagged with similarly indistinct labels, both BCS Bowls should fully account for these items.

  • The Sugar Bowl spent $710,406 in FYE 2007 and FYE 2008 on a mysteriously vague category called "special appropriations."
  • The Orange Bowl spends over $100,000 per year on "postage and shipping" (ten times the amount that other BCS Bowls spend annually).
  • The Orange Bowl spent $1,189,005 on unspecified "entertainment" and "catering" in FY 2009, $1,017,322 on undifferentiated "event food" and "entertainment" in FY 2008, and $75,896 on "recruitment" in FY 2008. 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: WHICH BCS "TASK FORCE" MEMBERS ATTENDED FREE BOWL JUNKETS?

After the Fiesta Bowl scandal, the BCS trumpted a new task force to investigate the Bowl's findings. Records obtained by Playoff PAC show that at least one task force member (So. Mississippi's Richard Rianni) received a "complimentary getaway" in the Caribbean from the BCS's Orange Bowl last year--the same type of trip that will be the subject of any Fiesta Bowl investigation.

  • Will Mr. Rianni recuse himself from the BCS task force's deliberations?
  • Which other BCS task force members have accepted free trips from BCS Bowls, such as the Fiesta Bowl's annual "Fiesta Frolic"?

QUOTES OF THE WEEK: "FULLY COMPLIANT"

  •  "I'm disappointed because I just think it's a waste of state resources and our time as well." -- Fiesta Bowl Chairman Duane Woods, commenting in July 2010 on news that the state Attorney General would investigate the Bowl based on Playoff PAC's legal complaint. 
  • "The Fiesta Bowl is confident that it has always fully complied with tax laws and rules in its operations and activities." -- Fiesta Bowl statement in September 2010, reacting to Playoff PAC's filing of a tax-law complaint with the IRS.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com