Tag:Fiesta Bowl
Posted on: April 8, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 3:59 pm

Mich. St.'s Ray back after beating cancer

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's been a rough offseason already for college football, as controversies ranging from the Fiesta Bowl fiasco* to Jim Tressel's dishonesty to yet more pay-for-play allegations have dominated headlines.

Which is why it's such a pleasure reading about Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr., who made his return to the Spartan practice field yesterday after four years away from the game spent battling bone cancer in his left leg. Per the Detroit Free-Press: 

He participated in MSU’s spring practice — including contact sessions — after the NCAA reversed his medical disqualification. He had been disqualified so as not to count against the team’s scholarship limit while he recovered. 

Coach Mark Dantonio and the players called the scene “emotional” for the offensive lineman, even though Ray didn’t want it to be a big deal. 

“It’s been a long time coming, four years,” Dantonio said. “More than anything, it’s a starting point to be back on the field. Also, it gives hope to anybody that’s in a tough situation in their life. If you just keep pushing, push through adversity, you have a chance.”

A fourth-year senior eligibility-wise, Ray still has an uphill battle to earn any significant playing time; Dantonio said the plan was to work him back into the flow of practice "gradually" so that both he and the coaching staff could learn exactly what he's capable and not capable of after the layoff.

But after a series of chemotherapy treatments and surgeries that threatened his ability to walk again, much less play football, it's probably not wise to put anything past Ray. Eye on Football wishes him the best of luck.

*Come to think of it, shouldn't we just start calling it the "Fiasco Bowl" instead?

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 "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?"


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. 


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"?


  •  "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.
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: March 29, 2011 3:55 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 3:58 pm

Fiesta Bowl report details widespread malfeasance

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Back in December 2009, the Arizona Republic dropped a bombshell about the Fiesta Bowl: that employees were allegedly routinely repaid for making donations to bowl-friendly politicians, skirting campaign finance laws. CEO John Junker denied any wrongdoing, and a brief investigation last year corroborated Junker's story.

Today, however, a new, independent investigative report was released that not only confirms the Arizona Republic's report, but paints an even starker picture: that Fiesta Bowl employees -- from Junker on down -- were also treating the bowl like some sort of personal piggy bank, racking up exorbitant expenses for parties and favors to politicians.

The 276-page report can be found here at the Fiesta Bowl's website, and the amount of inappropriate behavior uncovered by the investigation is staggering. The most serious charge is that 12 different employees told investigators that they were made part of a contribution scheme that funneled at least $46,500 to different politicians over the years, and many also said they were pressured into lying about or otherwise covering up the scheme.

Among the other misdeeds found by the investigators are a $33,000 birthday party for Junker, paid for by the bowl, and a $1,200 strip club tab. Moreover, the bowl would pay employees' entire credit card bills every month, then leave it up to employees to reimburse the bowl for whatever on the bill had been a personal expense, a practice ripe for abuse. Junker, in particular, would frequently omit receipts and merely write down what certain charges were -- one anecdote in the report alleges that Junker simply wrote down that a $200 charge was for a "taxi" and let the bowl foot the bill. 

“We are extremely disappointed and angered by the findings of the Special Committee’s investigation. While the Special Committee Final Report speaks for itself, I must say that the actions undertaken and orchestrated by John Junker and others are shocking and completely unacceptable,” said Duane Woods, Chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors. “Their actions, unfortunately, have tainted the stellar reputation that the Fiesta Bowl has worked so hard to maintain for more than 40 years.

Junker has been terminated with cause by the Fiesta Bowl, and according to the New York Times, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he might face criminal charges, though it doesn't specify which aspects of the report could be criminal in nature. The firing shouldn't be terribly surprising to Junker, who was placed on administrative leave by the Fiesta Bowl board of directors six weeks ago after refusing to comply with the investigation.

The Fiesta Bowl's BCS status going forward isn't addressed in this report, but its tax-exempt status certainly is; the report makes note of two $100,000, tax-free, interest-free loans to two bowl executives that were later paid off with bonus money, and some uncertainty over whether those loans will threaten the Fiesta Bowl's status as a charity. 

Posted on: March 14, 2011 12:10 pm

The Big 12 bails out Oklahoma

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Over the last couple of weeks we've learned about the financial windfall that a trip to a BCS bowl game can be for a school. Just take a look at schools like UConn, who was lucky enough to lose $1.8 million on a trip to Glendale for the Fiesta Bowl. Just to prove that such treasures weren't limited to smaller schools from the Big East, both Auburn and Oregon -- the two teams playing in the biggest game of the season and for a national title -- returned home from their trips to Glendale with less money in their pockets as well.

Just further proof of what a wonderful system the BCS is.

Of course, not every school came home from a BCS berth poorer. No, there's Oklahoma, who faced UConn in the Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners returned to Norman with money in their pockets, but only because the Big 12 was willing to absorb their losses.

Thanks to the Big 12's policy of absorbing much of a school's unsold tickets, Oklahoma only had to eat $337,080 worth of tickets. The conference took on 10,402 unsold tickets, eating $1,884,250. Which means that at the end of the day, Oklahoma returned home with a whopping $9,350 profit

What a wonderful system the BCS has put together for everybody!

Seriously, think of the BCS this way. With March Madness in full effect right now, a lot of you are no doubt joining bracket pools. Well, if the BCS was running the bracket pool, it would work like this.

Say 120 people entered the pool, paying $10 each. That would bring the total prize pool to $1,200. If you had the best bracket and won the pool, the BCS would then demand you pay them another $1,200, while giving everybody else their $10 back. Does that sound like the kind of pool you want to join?
Posted on: March 2, 2011 3:15 pm

The Fiesta Bowl cost UConn $1.8 million

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's a good thing that UConn and booster Robert Burton were able to hug things out, because the last thing the school needs right now is to have to refund a $3 million donation. You see, according to a story in the school's newspaper, The Daily Campus, the Huskies trip to the Fiesta Bowl was pretty costly. Not only did it cost them a head coach, as Randy Edsall used the rise in profile to capture his "dream job" at Maryland, but it turns out that the trip to Arizona cost the school $1.8 million.

And that's including the money the school got from the BCS.
The UConn athletic department lost nearly $1.8 million at the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, according to bowl documents obtained by The Daily Campus.
The university incurred total expenses of $4,280,998 at the Fiesta Bowl while only receiving a payout of $2,523,200 from the Big East.
By far the largest expense the university incurred came from absorbed ticket sales. The university sold only 2,771 out of an allotment of 17,500 tickets, resulting in the university absorbing 14,729 tickets worth $2,924,385.
The official figure of 2,771 tickets sold is substantially lower than the previously reported amount of 4,600 tickets sold.
The school has not commented on the amount it spent for the game, though the paper did get its hands on a survey the Fiesta Bowl gave to the school. UConn responded to questions about ticket prices and ticket commitments with a "neutral" to both. Though UConn did leave this in the comments section.

"We recognize the total ticket commitment associated with this BCS bowl game, but selling 17,500 tickets is a challenge for a school from the east whose fans incur significant travel expenses."

Seeing as how the school was stuck with 14,729 tickets, that does seem to be quite the challenge.

Here's a breakdown on what the school spent for its trip to Glendale.
  • Travel - $685,195
  • Food and lodging - $460,941
  • Entertainment, promotion, etc - $210,477
Those three things alone total $1,356,613.

But the current bowl system works both for the students, and for the schools. Don't forget that, kids.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 2:08 pm

OU's Stoops earns $1 million raise

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

So ... how much would you think a Big 12 championship and not-entirely-convincing Fiesta Bowl win over UConn is worth in today's open coaching market?

The answer according to those holding the purse strings at Oklahoma: a cool $1 million. That's the amount of the raise given to Bob Stoops after his Sooners' successful 2010 season, bringing his annual salary to en eye-popping $4.875 million before incentives or media appearance compensation.

So how much is $4.875 million, really? In 2010, only two other coaches crossed the $4.5 million threshold: Nick Saban and Mack Brown. After Stoops' bonuses and other extras, he'll almost certainly join Saban and Brown as the only coaches in the FBS to have cracked the $5 million mark. That seems like a hefty price tag for a coach who (unlike Saban or Brown) hasn't been to the national title game since 2004, but with programs like Notre Dame and Florida reportedly sniffing around the last couple of offseasons to see if Stoops could have been lured away, it might have been necessary to keep Stoops in Norman all the same.

That said, we don't know if the faculty in Norman are working under the same kind of wage controls that helped lead to the coaching salary outrage at Texas Tech, but we're betting there's been some eyebrows raised regardless.  

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