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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

September 26, 2011 at 12:21 PM

BCS under attack: Stop us if you’ve heard this one

The Arizona Republic Sunday launched a week-long series of stories looking into practices surrounding the Bowl Championship Series. It’s not likely to be a flattering profile.

Here’s the link:

No doubt the investigative effort was spurred by the hijinks of the Fiesta Bowl, which was the subject of great embarrassment after a probe that began with alleged illegal campaign contributions and ran all the way to a $1,200 tab run up in one evening by three Fiesta employees at a local strip club.

Among other tools, the Republic says it analyzed tax returns and other financial documents obtained from 100 public-records requests in various states.

The newspaper reports that 41 percent of the public schools that have taken part in BCS bowls since the system’s inception in 1998 lost money on the appearance, and says the number would have been 50 percent except for subsidies given by those teams’ conferences.

The Republic claims the average pay of top BCS bowl executives is above the 90th percentile of the 9,000 CEOS of non-profits who work with similar or even slightly larger budgets.

It notes that the BCS bowls routinely get state subsidies, and that’s a sore point at a time when austere state budgets have caused significant layoffs and spending cutbacks.

The series is one more blow to a bowl system that has been taking some body shots the past couple of years. There was the book “Death to the BCS: The definitive case against the Bowl Championship Series.” Then came the revelations surrounding the Fiesta Bowl, including all sorts of party-hearty extravagance.

And last week, the Sugar Bowl admitted that it made $3,000 in improper contributions to former Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Still, executive director Paul Hoolahan told CBSSports.com that the action comes far short of the wrongdoing at the Fiesta Bowl.

The “Death to the BCS” authors reported that Hoolahan made $607,500 in total compensation in the fiscal year 2008 – a pretty good chunk of change for a guy running a non-profit.

Meanwhile, that cheering you heard in the background comes from those yearning for a playoff system in college football.

I’d always assumed that if the BCS was going to give way to a playoff system someday, it would happen because of Congressional action or an antitrust attack or a gradual conversion in the way of thinking by university presidents. Instead, maybe it’ll be an inside-out change, the bowls’ excesses bringing them down.

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