Justice Department to NCAA: Why Should the Rules be Different for You?
This week there have been a number of sports news reports concerning a recent letter sent by the U.S. Justice Department to Mark Emmert, President of the NCAA. The letter asks Emmert to respond on behalf of the NCAA to several questions relating to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) that currently is used to decide the NCAA Division I football championship each season.
The Justice Department was asked last fall by several entities to look into possible anti-trust law violations involving the BCS formula for determining the national champion. This remains the only one of the 89 NCAA championships at its three competitive levels that is not decided by post-season tournament competition.
The attorney general of Utah has threatened to file an anti-trust lawsuit and met with Justice Department officials late last fall. Opponents of the current BCS system argue that it violates federal anti-trust laws by artificially limiting the number of Division I schools whose football teams realistically have a chance to compete for the national championship. Those same critics also allege that the BCS unilaterally monopolizes the large sums of money generated by the BCS games and distributes it almost entirely to the six so-called BCS Conferences. This denial of money to other schools makes it more difficult for them to compete because of a lack of money.
Bill Hancock, the BCS Executive Director responded to the reports by expressing confidence that the current system is in compliance with the law.
“Goodness gracious, with all that’s going on in the world right now and with national and states budgets what being what they are, it seems like a waste of taxpayers’ money to have the government looking into how college football games are played” he said.
Some people might respond to Mr. Hancock by noting that the members of the BCS organization divided some $160 million this past season just from the five BCS bowl games. BCS schools also receive most of the hundreds of millions of dollars in TV revenues for regular season game rights. Big-time college football is in many ways big business. Why shouldn’t it be subject to the same federal laws that govern market competition for other businesses?
Readers can find numerous stories reported on this subject. One story can be found in the May 5 Atlanta Journal-Constitution.