Friday, October 15, 2010

Pressure Mounts on the BCS

The legality of the Bowl Championship Series has been a frequent topic of discussion over the years at Sports Law Blog. Typically, legal criticism of the BCS has centered on whether the system violates federal antitrust law. However, a new line of legal attack was recently asserted against the BCS.

Specifically, last month PlayoffPAC, a political action committee formed in 2009 to advocate for the adoption of a playoff in college football, submitted a report to the Internal Revenue Service challenging the tax-exempt status of the Fiesta, Orange, and Sugar Bowls. The report effectively argues that the three BCS bowls should not be considered Section 501(c)(3) charities in light of the (allegedly) excessive compensation and benefits they give to their executives, as well as their various (and sometimes undisclosed) political lobbying efforts. BCS opponents in Congress have taken notice of the report, urging the IRS to review the allegations. In response, the Fiesta Bowl announced last week that it was undertaking an investigation to determine whether its employees were reimbursed for political donations, a potential felony.

Meanwhile, the BCS is also facing criticism on another front, as Yahoo! Sports columnists Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter, and Jeff Passan have taken aim at many of the common defenses asserted in support of the BCS in their new book Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series. Based on some of the initial reviews, the book is likely to be of interest to anyone following the BCS debate.