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Sunday, June 27, 2010
More Antitrust and the BCS

Following up on my post from last week, the Idaho Statesmen features an interesting article today regarding a potential antitrust lawsuit against the Bowl Championship Series. The article notes that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff intends to continue his pursuit of an antitrust case against the BCS, despite Utah's recent admission into the Pac-10. The article reports that AG Shurtleff will be meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice in mid-July to discuss the possibility of the DOJ challenging the BCS under federal antitrust law, with a decision from the DOJ expected this fall.

The article also includes an interesting discussion regarding the effect that a possible appearance by Boise State in this season's BCS National Championship Game would have on a potential antitrust suit against the BCS. While other strong antitrust claims against the BCS would continue to exist, having a university from a non-BCS conference appear in the national title game would nevertheless weaken such a case, enabling the BCS to argue that its system is truly open to all Football Bowl Subdivision universities, regardless of conference affiliation. This is one of the reasons why I believe that claims based on price-fixing and unequal revenue distribution provide a stronger basis for an antitrust challenge to the BCS, shifting the focus of the case from one of access to the financial disparities inherent in the current system.

The Idaho Statesmen article is available here. For more on potential antitrust claims against the BCS, see my article Antitrust & The Bowl Championship Series.


Thanks for this. I hope the BCS blows up. On a different note, do you think Howard W. would be in favor of instant replay for the English goal that didn't count today? Just sayin'....

Anonymous Anonymous -- 6/27/2010 1:06 PM  

I think most people familiar with how the system works have been touting the financial disparity angle from the beginning, no?

Hope we have a chance soon to sit down in person and chat about this stuff, your writing so far has been fascinating.

Blogger Tim -- 6/27/2010 2:01 PM  


Thanks for the kind words. I do think that people have been touting the financial disparity issue for a while, but in a slightly different way than I am talking about it. Almost all of the law review literature on the BCS, for instance, focuses on the unequal access for non-BCS conferences and the financial imbalances that that creates.

Alternatively, when I'm talking about financial disparity I am primarily referring to the fact that even when non-BCS conferences overcome all the odds and qualify for a BCS bowl game, they still receive significantly less revenue than do each of the BCS Conferences for their participation. While I have seen a few mainstream articles this year highlighting this disparity, I haven't seen a lot of discussion regarding the antitrust implications of this imbalance. My contention is that the BCS's disproportionate revenue distribution constitutes an antitrust violation in and of itself, separate from any access-related issues. I think that this is a stronger grounds upon which to attack the BCS, because it takes away the BCS's first line of defense, namely the increased access for non-BCS teams in recent years.

Blogger Nathaniel Grow -- 6/27/2010 2:36 PM  

Boise State is actually in a BCS conference, but the WAC isn't an automatic qualifying BCS conference.

People tend to point towards the financial disparities between the automatic qualifying programs and the non-AQs, but the disbursement figures would seem to refute the claims.

Anonymous MoonDog -- 6/29/2010 5:00 PM  

I would like to offer the following as a short term solution to the BCS BS. first, if two non AQ qualifying teams finish undefeated and in the top 5 in the final BCS Poll, a non AQ play off game should be held with the winner advancing to the BCS championship game and the loser having an opportunity to play in one of the other BCS Bowls. Secondly, in order to eliminate the antitrust issues regarding payouts to all participants, all b teams playing in BCS games would share equally in the payouts.

Blogger Pat Large -- 11/07/2010 3:14 PM  

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