Thursday, March 31st, 2011...10:20 am

The BCS Might Get Sued!

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Don’t get too excited, college football fans, there are no new antitrust threats against the BCS for its failure to institute a playoff system (at least for today). But we still may see the Bowl Championship Series in federal court soon. This is all speculation of course, but with several media outlets reporting that the BCS may remove the Fiesta Bowl from its lineup, it isn’t a stretch to see this dispute ending up in court.

The Fiesta Bowl, an annual bowl game in the BCS lineup played in Phoenix, AZ, has fired CEO John Junker for receiving excessive compensation, making improper gifts and authorizing reimbursement for campaign contributions to Arizona politicians. The investigation revealed almost $47,000 in improper funds, in violation of Arizona campaign finance laws and the Bowl’s status as a non-profit entity. (For all the racy details, read the ESPN report)

Where this gets interesting from a legal perspective is that the Fiesta Bowl is in the second year of a four year contract to be a part of the BCS lineup. According to reports, the BCS is confident that it could cut ties with the Fiesta Bowl, despite that contract. While I am sure there is language in the contract purporting to authorize such a move, the Fiesta Bowl is unlikely to accept losing their status as a top-flight bowl game. Without that status, the event could fold, or at least be forced to accept a less favorable matchup every year. A breach of contract suit wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility.

The BCS, of course, is the organization that administers college football’s national championship game and funnels big-time money to schools in the “BCS” conferences. Some have questioned the BCS’s legality, but as of now, the BCS itself seems safe, although President Obama is on record as saying the system needs to change. I think he even called it a priority once, but I’m not sure. I know it was mentioned in his campaign.  And you thought the government only got involved in baseball and pro football.

Sam Mann can be reached at sgmann@email.wm.edu

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