Blog Entry

Letter to Senator Orrin Hatch

Posted on: June 13, 2010 8:02 pm

Senator Hatch:

The changing landscape of division I-A football and the impact it will have on college campuses across America is of great concern. It will have both direct and indirect impact on various stakeholders both positively and negatively. You do not need me to state the highly political shakedowns that is happening with the intent of protecting home institutions. This is a situation that you and your colleagues should monitor and provide guidance without the use of threats.

The supposed Armageddon of four super conferences in college athletics is not the worst thing that can happen to college athletics. True it will create a bigger gap between the haves and have-nots. There are billions of dollars that are in play and the money will only increase in the future. In fact the revenue gap between college football conferences and professional leagues television deals is dwindling fast. At the conclusion of this round of TV deals the BCS conferences payout (collectively) will be higher than Major League Baseball who is in the middle of a 7 year 3 billion dollars deal. The money that is being handed out is mind blowing and most of it is not being taxed.

Some of the opponents of super conferences in congress has voiced concern and mused about looking into the tax exempt/anti-trust status of college athletics. That is commendable and should be looked at in depth. I am certain that the conclusion of any research in the matter would be that taking away the Anti-trust protection/tax-exemption status is the worst thing that can happen to college athletics.

Membership into the NCAA is voluntary. 95% of NCAA annual budget of $700 million dollars is generated through the men's basketball tournament. If congress takes away the anti-trust/tax exemption status there is nothing to prevent the BCS schools from departing the NCAA and forming their own athletic association. Right now Utah State has a chance to be on national TV by participating in March Madness and George Mason had the opportunity to make their run to the Final Four that gave them over a hundred million dollars of PR. Those type of events would not happen if the BCS schools departed the NCAA which would force CBS/Turner to opt out of the contract.

It is almost impossible to quantify the impact that would be felt in communities and campuses both large and small. If the NCAA was to disappear what happens then? That is the BILLION dollar question. Taking away the anti-trust/tax exemptions that college athletics currently are permitted takes away the carrot for the BCS schools to play along with the NCAA revenue sharing system.

Although many people are saying that Super conference will lead to a playoff in football it does not make business sense. I read recently that Jim Delaney stated in a congressional hearing that a playoff system would be hundreds of millions of dollars. I don't debate that, but the problem is that a playoff system would need to sanctioned and operated through the NCAA. Take a look college basketball and how the NCAA use the subsidy (Men's Basketball tournament) it does not make business sense for the BCS schools to go in a playoff and giveaway the money. The current system where they keep over 80% of the money through bowls is better for the schools.

Congress take away tax exemptions, and these schools might decide to takeaway the $700 subsidy that they provide.


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