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Tag:Bill Hancock
Posted on: May 11, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Release: 'Six other reforms' necessary for Fiesta

The Fiesta Bowl appears to have gotten off light in its punishment from its BCS peers, subjected to a $1 million fine that represents only a fraction of the kind of Monopoloy money the bowl has spent for its own board members over the years. And it has.

But at the least the BCS is making some effort to prevent the Fiesta's brand of scandal from happening again. Per the BCS's official press release, executive director Bill Hancock and the rest of the BCS overseers have approved a series of "six other reforms" recommended by a BCS task force to provide "tougher and more independent audits, tighter membership controls for the Fiesta Bowl board, and greater accountability."

These are in addition to various reforms enacted by the Fiesta already, without which the task force "almost certainly would have recommended the termination of the BCS Group's involvement with the Fiesta Bowl." Whether these reforms (or those added by the task force) will have any lasting effect remains to be seen, but at least it's a start.

The full text of the press release is as follows:
The presidents and commissioners who oversee the Bowl Championship Series today unanimously approved a special task force recommendation to enact a series of sanctions designed to create stronger oversight and better management of the Fiesta Bowl, including a $1 million sanction.

The task force concluded that the reforms undertaken by the bowl’s new leaders are “appropriate and necessary,” but due to the severity of the problem, the task force has recommended that additional measures and corrective action be required.

The commissioners and university presidents approved the recommendation of the task force that the Fiesta Bowl be subject to a $1 million sanction with the proceeds benefitting youth in Arizona. The task force also recommended the enactment of six other measures to improve the governance of the bowl.

The task force, chaired by Penn State University President Graham Spanier, concluded “The board of directors of the Fiesta Bowl failed in its responsibility to properly oversee the management and administration of the Bowl. The task force is deeply troubled by the evidence set forth in the [Fiesta Bowl’s] Special Committee’s report. That evidence strongly suggests that the Bowl’s executive staff frequently acted with scant regard for ethics and proper conduct. Further, it is the opinion of the task force that the Bowl’s board of directors over the years was negligent in its oversight responsibilities.”

The task force commended the bowl’s leaders for their swift and corrective “reveal and reform” actions since the Special Committee report was released in March. According to the task force’s 15-page report, “Nevertheless, the task force has concluded that additional reforms are needed, and is recommending sanctions.” Had these reforms not been made by the Fiesta Bowl, the task force “almost certainly would have recommended the termination of the BCS Group’s involvement with the Fiesta Bowl.”

In addition to the $1 million sanction, the task force called for the six other reforms involving tougher and more independent audits, tighter membership controls for the Fiesta Bowl board, and greater accountability. The task force also recommended requiring all BCS bowls conform to soon-to be developed standards for responsible bowl governance and that each bowl associated with the BCS be required to certify annually to the Executive Director of the BCS that it is conducting its business in accordance with the standards or be subject to possible sanctions.

Posted on: May 9, 2011 12:10 pm
 

Jim Delany isn't sweating the Dept. of Justice

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last week the Department of Justice sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert and BCS executive Bill Hancock asking questions about the current BCS system, and implying that simply saying that the BCS doesn't violate federal anti-trust laws isn't good enough to prove that it doesn't. Which is a good indication that the Department of Justice is getting ready to find out for itself. Well, we've yet to hear from Emmert or Hancock on the matter, but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany had no qualms talking about it to the USA Today.

According to Delany, the BCS has nothing to worry about.

"You never should be overconfident on legal matters. Like anything else, once they're in a courtroom or in front of a jury, you can't predict outcomes," Delany told the USA Today. "Having said that, we know what (the college football postseason once) was, and we know what is. And we know there was a thorough vetting of all antitrust issues at the beginning and during (the life of the BCS) because our presidents have always wanted to know the legal basis on which we operate.

"There's no judge or jury in the world that can make you enter into an four-team, eight-team or 16-team playoff."

Delany's point being that even if the DOJ were to break the BCS, conferences would go back to the old way of securing bowl contracts and not form a playoff system. 

"I know at the end of the day that we've operated in total good faith. I know that (the postseason) is better than it was," Delany continued. "And if it can't go forward, it can't go forward. But I also know that we can't be enjoined, we can't be directed or forced into something we don't think is the right thing for us to do."

I'll agree with Delany in that the current bowl system is better than it used to be. Before we settled national championships on nothing but opinion, and at least now we get a championship game, even if many of us don't always agree with the way the opponents in that game are settled. Still, just because things get better, doesn't mean they can't be improved further.

And as we all know, the BCS could definitely use some improvement.

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.
Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:08 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 5:56 pm
 

Bill Hancock: Fiesta Bowl could lose BCS status

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In the wake of the Fiesta Bowl's investigative report released today -- and its immediate firing of CEO John Junker thereafter -- there's bound to be mountains of scrutiny on the Fiesta Bowl going forward. Today, BCS chairman Bill Hancock announced that the BCS would consider stripping the Fiesta Bowl of its BCS status.

"The BCS group takes this matter very seriously and will consider whether they keep a BCS bowl game, and we will consider other appropriate sanctions," Hancock told the Arizona Republic. "If the bowl does remain a BCS bowl its handling of thing [sic] will be closely monitored going forward."

There's no timetable for these sanctions, nor any indication that the BCS is actively pursuing that level of punishment as yet, but the fact that it's even on the table should be terrifying for Fiesta Bowl officials. This isn't an idle threat, either; George Schroeder of the Register-Guard is reporting that the BCS will establish a task force and is asking the Fiesta Bowl to demonstrate why it should remain a BCS bowl .

The obvious beneficiary of this uncertainty is the Cotton Bowl, which is currently located in Jerry Jones ' otherworldly Cowboys Stadium and has been looking to re-establish its former glory. A BCS bid would be enough to make that happen. The only major barrier to that bid, if the Fiesta Bowl does indeed have its bid stripped, is television; the Cotton Bowl is currently televised by Fox, while the BCS has a contract with ESPN . That can likely be negotiated away, though.

There's also the issue of what would happen to the Cotton Bowl Classic in its current state -- as in the January 7 game pitting the Big 12 No. 2 and the SEC's No. 3, No. 4 or or No. 5 against each other -- but that's about 12 steps down the line, and we're still waiting for step two.


Posted on: December 22, 2010 2:18 pm
 

MWC, C-USA to team up for BCS bid?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Mountain West has been taking hits all season long.  Things started out promising enough when the conference landed Boise State, and speculation that the league could end up with an automatic BCS bid because of it began.  Unfortunately, since then, the conference has watched TCU, Utah and BYU move on to greener pastures, and any talk of an automatic bid for the Mountain West quickly came to a halt.

Though that hasn't stopped the conference from brainstorming ideas to get that bid.  In fact, it seems that the Mountain West is teaming up with Conference USA in an attempt to find a way to get a BCS bid between the two conferences.
A united approach to a Bowl Championship Series automatic-qualifying berth has been among the most intriguing possibilities since neither currently has automatic status.
"There is still some level of interest in talking about that between the two conferences," [C_USA commissioner Britton] Banowsky said. "Where the conversation ultimately goes, I think, is way too early to tell. But I think as long as folks are interested in exploring that idea, we'll continue to do that."
There has been speculation the two could push for a BCS play-in game between the winners of their conferences.

That laughing you hear in the background is Bill Hancock.

It's a noble idea, sure, and one that in a perfect world would likely deserve some consideration, but let's be real, the BCS isn't looking to bring in any new members.  While the two conferences may team up and help each other with marketing and television, there's no way either will end up with an automatic BCS berth.
Posted on: December 18, 2010 3:08 am
 

Is patent news setback for Mark Cuban's playoff?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As reported yesterday, Mark Cuban has set his sights on the deeply unpopular BCS postseason in college football, and that he in the exploratory stages of establishing and funding a playoff system with the intent of competing against the BCS. BCS spokesperson Bill Hancock expressed considerable doubt that Cuban would be able to accomplish that goal. Of course, if Hancock didn't say that he'd be fired on the spot, but that doesn't make his doubts entirely invalid. Cuban does, in fact, face a series of major challenges from the NCAA establishment in making this playoff system happen.

As Cuban wrote today, however, he faces another hurdle -- namely, that he's not the first person to have this idea, and those before him aim to profit off a playoff plan one way or another. Here's part of an e-mail Cuban received from someone reportedly represented by a major law firm:

My advise is, don’t waste your money. There are three perfected alternatives to the BCS.  I own one, a guy with CBS owns another and a guy in Arizona owns the third.  By that, I don’t mean the screw-ball ideas you see on the internet, but actual branded properties.

[...]

You should also consider that the playoffs are already owned by someone, as in, the patent for resolving the FBS championship by way of a playoff was issued long ago. It’s called a method patent, so be careful not to infringe it.

In his post, Cuban then rues the fact that people can be issued patents for this system without ever having the means or intent of actually implementing it, and that the patent system effectively acts as a roadblock to real progress on the football postseason front. He's right. For as pro-business as the USA is, its draconian approach to copyright and trademark law (and the sheer volume of professionals trained to exploit it) means that innovation is effectively bottlenecked by lawyers and patent filers in this day and age.

But read that e-mail carefully; there are (purportedly) "three perfected alternatives to the BCS" already owned, but according to both the e-mail and CBSSports.com's research, there's only one actual patent issued for a postseason playoff system. It's unclear what the other two patents address, and as of right now we do not know how CBS is actually involved in this patent situation, but insofar as issuing playoff bids goes, there's one system on the books. For Cuban, that's good news.

The patent in question is here, and it's pretty thorough -- as all good patents should be, really. It's owned by Marc Mathews of Chandler, AZ (presumably this is the "guy in Arizona" Cuban's unnamed e-mailer mentions), and it was issued 12 years ago. It's long, but here's the abstract, with one particular portion emphasized by us:

A method for conducting a championship playoff includes the steps of ranking participating teams after a regular season by adding the ranks of each team based upon at least two different polls, and assigning a final rank for each team based upon the summation of these polls. A championship tournament is then conducted with a plurality of rounds of events to reduce the initial number of teams to a single champion. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, one poll is a poll of sports writers, a second poll is a poll of coaches, and a third poll is an objective poll, with the first and second polls being weighted more heavily than the objective poll. Each round of events in the championship playoff would be played at different site locations. A secondary tournament would be conducted utilizing the highest ranked teams below those which are utilized in the championship tournament. The secondary tournament would include a plurality of rounds of events to narrow the teams to a single champion of the secondary tournament. The secondary tournament rounds are played at different locations than the championship tournament rounds, and are played on different days than the championship rounds.

This, of course, is the method by which the BCS selects its national championship participants, and it was every bit the canon in 1998 as it remains today. Therein lies the problem for Mathews and his patent. If Cuban doesn't use at least two polls, he's got a leisurely stroll past this patent. Here's the first method patented by Mathews, and the method upon which every single other method in his patent is based (again, emphasis ours):

1. A method for conducting a championship playoff among at least three participating teams, each team playing a plurality of games during a "regular" season, comprising the steps of:

ranking the participating teams after the regular season, comprising the steps of:

adding the rank of each participating team from a first poll to the rank of each team in a second poll to obtain an initial overall rank;

assigning a final rank for each team, with the lowest sum of the initial overall rank constituting the highest rank, and the highest sum from the initial overall rank constituting the lowest rank;

conducting a championship tournament with at least the three teams having the highest final rank, comprising the steps of:

conducting at least a first round of events to determine the two teams to play in a championship game; and

conducting a championship game with the two teams determined from the previous round of events, to determine a champion.

Again, this type of redundancy is typically seen as a strength of the BCS, but if Cuban, say, uses one formula to determine his postseason participants, even if it's a formula agreed on by several different participants, he violates neither this method nor any of the others in the patent (which, again, are all based on this founding premise).

All of which is to say, there is almost certainly a way for Cuban to get around the restrictions laid out by this patent (the existence of which is most certainly ethically dubious but generally accepted as "smart business" all the same), and opponents of Cuban's plan would be wise not to see this as an actual roadblock to a playoff but rather a weakness in the BCS's armor.

Posted on: December 9, 2010 1:52 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2010 1:55 pm
 

A response to Bill Hancock

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Former director of the NCAA Final Four and current executive director of the BCS, Bill Hancock, wrote a column in today's USA Today defending the BCS and everything it stands for.  After reading it, I couldn't help but react, so I figured why not have show my reaction here?

Below is Hancock's column, word for word, with my response to everything he says.  Hancock's words are italicized, while mine are just dripping with sarcasm and disgust.  

We've been called communists, a cartel, crooks — and worse — but that's malarkey. And I'm proud to stand up and point out why college football is so popular and why our system works so well.

I can't wait to hear this you commie pinko bastard.

College football was one weekend away from Boise State participating in the BCS National Championship Game because of what happened on the playing field — not in a chatroom, a boardroom or a newsroom. The BCS rankings are based on how a team plays between the white lines, and the results speak for themselves. If the BCS were corrupt, how could a missed field goal in the Boise State-Nevada game and a 24-point comeback by Auburn over Alabama have made such a difference?

I'm no genius, but I'm pretty sure that even before the BCS, Boise State losing to Nevada would have killed its chances to win the national championship in both human polls.  I'm not sure that the BCS can claim that it invented losses.  Also, should there be one of those crazy playoff things, that loss would have affected Boise's seeding in the tournament.

As USA TODAY reported shortly after Boise State lost its first game and TCU decided to join the Big East, "It's been a bad 72 hours for BCS bashers."

You know who the day was worse for?  The conferences that the BCS has effectively killed due to exclusion.  The Mountain West and WAC are dying because the teams that have the best chance to get to a BCS bowl game have to leave the conference so they can have a better shot at the billion dollar pie.

The purpose of the BCS is to match the nation's top two teams in a championship bowl game while creating a series of other exciting matchups. It's nothing more than that. This season, that means the No. 1 Auburn Tigers vs. the No. 2 Oregon Ducks.

Our other purpose?  Make money money, make money money.  

The problem people have with the BCS isn't what it's trying to do.  It's what the BCS keeps from happening.  You know, that playoff system that would allow more teams a chance to play for a national title, and actually settle it on the field rather than in the opinions the media and coaches, and the calculations of some computers.

If this were the shady system that some people claim, how could Boise State have been only inches away? And if the system were designed to shut out schools from the so-called non-power conferences, how could TCU — undefeated and No. 3 in the BCS rankings — play in the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl?

Because the Rose Bowl was forced to take TCU, and because the BCS won't allow TCU to play for a national title.

The abuse from the critics is balderdash. The fact is the BCS accomplishes its mission with a stunningly popular national championship game. It regularly draws more viewers than the NCAA Final Four, the World Series, the NBA Championships and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Other things that draw more viewers than those events: Dancing With The Stars and American Idol.  You know what the difference is between those shows and the BCS?  They actually force all the contestants to compete against each other and listen to the opinions of those who watch the show.

And it does this while maintaining college football's wonderful regular season and also by preserving America's unique multiday bowl tradition that rewards student-athletes with a celebratory bowl-game week.

Congratulations!  Have fun in Mobile!

As this season proves, outstanding teams can play in BCS bowls, including the national championship game, no matter what conference they're in. For much of this season, Boise State and TCU earned the ranking of No. 3 and No. 4. That can't happen in a rigged system.

You know what can happen in a rigged system?  Never allowing Boise State and TCU to get higher than No. 3 or No. 4.  

Also, nobody is complaining that TCU or Boise don't get a chance to play in BCS bowls.  The complaint is that a TCU team that is undefeated just like Auburn and Oregon can't get a chance to play for a title.  Don't lie to me, Hancock.  We all know that had Auburn lost to Alabama and then beaten South Carolina, they'd still be playing Oregon.

Commies? A cartel? Give me a break. The BCS is a voluntary arrangement that benefits every university in the NCAA's Bowl Subdivision.

You and I have different definitions of "voluntary," sir.  

It has provided all schools with more revenue and more access to the major bowl games than ever before.

It just happens to provide certain conferences with more revenue and more access.

Why not a playoff?

This should be good.

Sure, I understand that many football fans want an NFL-style playoff instead. I know that they want to fill out a bracket, and that they want to watch more college football in December. They want their favorite team to have a slot in that bracket. But the desire for a different postseason format doesn't justify the false attacks against the BCS event. And as the person who used to manage the NCAA Final Four, I know that what works for one sport doesn't work so easily for a different sport.

Good point, Mr. Hancock.  It's not like the FCS has a playoff system or anything.  I mean, that's college football, where as the FBS is college football.  It's totally different.

College football has the best regular season of any sport, and the lack of a playoff is one big reason why. Millions of football fans this year tuned in to watch the season-opening game between Boise State and Virginia Tech because there was so much on the line —starting early in September. If there were a playoff, the Alabama-Auburn game wouldn't have been as important nationally, or as dramatic.

Yes, we've all seen what playoffs have done to the NFL regular season.  Those incredibly high ratings, packed football stadiums and all that money coming in has destroyed the sport.

I mean, nobody would ever tune into a football game if the only thing that was on the line was the top seed and homefield advantage in the playoffs.

A playoff also would mean the end of America's bowl tradition as we know it. As Rick Baker, president of the Cotton Bowl, said, "A playoff system would ruin the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic."

Yes, the Cotton Bowl Classic which recently left the actual Cotton Bowl for Cowboys Stadium.  We certainly don't want to threaten that tradition.  Surely with a playoff system we'd never again have a chance to see the third-best team in the SEC face off against the third-best team in the Big 12.

Under the current system, 70 schools and hordes of fans arrive days before the big game and immediately become the toast of the town.

"GIVE US YOUR MONEY!"

Fans and families plan vacations around bowl week. Student-athletes are celebrated as the players get to see places and do things they otherwise never could do. No wonder a poll of student-athletes taken by ESPN the Magazine earlier this year showed that 77% of players would prefer a career with three bowl games to a career with one playoff game.

Well, with a playoff system, if that player stayed in school all four years and only made the playoffs once, he'd end up playing in one playoff game and go to three bowl games.  I wonder how he'd feel about that option.

A playoff, on the other hand, would be limited to a small number of schools, 

Unlike the BCS, which welcomes 10.

and it would turn their celebratory week into a series of one-day business trips because the teams would arrive the day before the game and leave right afterward. If they won, they'd need to get ready for next week's game. That's not a bowl party — that's another game on the schedule. 

While bowl games are another game on the schedule.  There's a difference!

For the schools that don't make a playoff, their bowl games would fade away. Sadly, so too would a great American tradition.

Ah, yes, America.  Baseball, apple pie and the DVDA Compass Bowl.  I tear up just thinking about it.

If ever a season showed that the BCS is fair and that it works, it's this season. And it happened while maintaining the thrilling regular season in which every game counts.

Yes, that's right.  This season, the one in which a team that has not lost a game this year and will be denied a chance to be champion, is the fairest of them all!  Every game in the regular season counted, just not TCU's!

Thanks for helping me see the light, Mr. Hancock.

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