A group of 21 economists and lawyers sent a letter to the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division yesterday requesting a formal investigation of college football’s Bowl Championship Series.
It’s yet another shot fired in a longstanding battle by playoff supporters to bring down the BCS.
The group argues that the BCS shields certain schools from competition because access to the five biggest bowl games is not necessarily based on merit. Automatic bids are granted to certain conference victors, but it’s much harder for a non auto-qualifier to get into a BCS game.
They also claim that the BCS revenue allocation system is not only uneven, but anti-competitive, and will ultimately harm consumers. The BCS has a pre-determined share of revenue go to a small range of schools, while competitive achievements are often overlooked, according to the letter.
The group requesting the action is a collection of economics and law professors and practitioners that includes prominent behavioural economist and University of Chicago professor Richard Thaler.
Will this actually prompt a probe into the BCS? Unlikely, since requests from more influential sources have been touted before with no tangible results. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting that the DOJ’s Antitrust Division take a hard look at the BCS in 2009, but no further action has been taken since then.
Though the recent investigation into corruption at the Fiesta Bowl could endanger their “non-profit” status and leave the BCS on shaky ground.
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