It’s getting tougher for the NCAA to continue to dance around the antitrust issues entangled with the BCS system in college football.
In a recent letter to the NCAA, Christine Varney, the antitust chief for the Department of Justice (DOJ), said there are “serious questions” about the current BCS system in college football. In particular the letter wondered about the lack of a playoff system in NCAA Division I football. Every other NCAA-sanctioned sport, including lower-level football, utilizes a playoff to determine its champion. See: Feds to NCAA: Why no playoffs?
Varney said her office had received a request from 21 college professors to open an investigation of the BCS.
“Serious questions continue to arise suggesting the current Bowl Championship Series system may not be conducted consistent with the competition principles expressed in the federal antitrust laws,” said Varney.
Antitrust economist Andy Schwarz, whose efforts against the BCS helped spur the DOJ to take this initial action, argues that “the collusive steps the BCS has taken to insulate its weak championship game from competition from a better alternative [i.e., a playoff]” is likely an antitrust violation. See: BCS: Antitrust storm clouds gather
Schwarz believes the DOJ, NCAA and BCS will do battle and that the ultimate settlement could be a consent decree that would in effect bust up the BCS and “allow an entrepreneur like Mark Cuban, a network such as ESPN, or the NCAA itself to develop a playoff in competition with the BCS.”
On another front, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said this week that he intends to file an antitrust lawsuit sometime this summer against the BCS. See: Utah A.G. pleased feds look into BCS
“It is an illegal monopoly that benefits certain teams over others and hurts institutions of higher learning,” said Shurtleff.
Shurtleff’s lawsuit will seek damages for schools in the non-BCS conferences that have lost millions of dollars over the years because the existing system keeps nonpreferred conferences at a competitive advantage, according to Shurtleff.
Long-time BCS critic Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also weighed in. He called the BCS a “mess” and said that “privileged conferences” have tremendous advantages over the unprivileged.
The League of Fans is calling for the abolishment of the unfair and unethical BCS system in favor of a 16-team playoff.
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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