Tag:BCS Antitrust
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: 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.
 
 
 
 
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