The ticket scheme alone leaves schools awash in red ink. Virginia Tech lost $400,000 on last year's trip to the Orange Bowl — despite getting $1.2 million from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Though Auburn claimed last season's BCS crown, financial records show it still lost $600,000 — even after a $2.2 million bailout from the Southeastern Conference.

Some bowls have also found a way to scam schools on hotels. Because the bowls usually arrange lodging, athletic directors assume their "friends" are negotiating the best group deals. But that's not always the case.

Under Junker's rule, the Fiesta Bowl required schools to purchase 3,750 room-nights at about $200 a pop. According to the contract, the schools had to pay whether they used them or not.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS, defends the college bowl system.
Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS, defends the college bowl system.

But what Junker wasn't telling his "friends" was that he had arranged a side deal with the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. In exchange for funneling teams to Scottsdale resorts, the city's tourism arm agreed to kick the Fiesta Bowl $8.2 million over the 20-year pact, according to a contract discovered by the Arizona Republic.

The Sugar Bowl — which pays executive director Paul Hoolahan $645,000 — also received "voluntary commissions" from New Orleans hotels. Other bowls have been accused of similar arrangements.

Resplendent in dusty-orange jackets, the Orange Bowl's top brass gathered next to the pool at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino last week alongside West Virginia's head coach Dana Holgorsen and Clemson's Dabo Swinney.

In a few weeks, Holgorsen's and Swinney's schools will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to send athletes, bands, students, and boosters hundreds of miles to play a football game at Sun Life Stadium.

The coaches smiled, the bowl's anthropomorphic fruit mascot Obie danced, and Jeff Roberts — a local vice president of Goldman Sachs and the bowl's chairman — gave the company line.

"We're more than just a football game and a tradition," he said.

But for the first time in decades, that "tradition" is decidedly under attack. Consider Taylor Morgan. He's a board member of Playoff PAC, the same group that reported the Orange Bowl to the IRS. His group also filed federal complaints against the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, whose head, Junker, lost his job in part because of their research.

"These bowls receive millions of dollars in federal and state subsidies," Morgan says. "They don't donate money to their communities. They don't do anything of substance in a charitable sense other than line the pockets of their friends and executives."

Add in books such as Wetzel's Death to the BCS, a step-by-step account of this wholesale soaking, and bowl execs were suddenly being publicly strafed for their sins.

The system is also facing attack on the antitrust front. Only the six biggest conferences — plus Notre Dame's athletic director — have voting rights within the BCS. The BCS picks the teams for the top five bowls. These six leagues also receive the largest revenue cuts, leaving the five remaining Division 1 conferences at their mercy.

Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist likens it to Major League Baseball allowing the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies to decide who makes the playoffs — and guarantee themselves the biggest paydays. So he and 21 other economists filed a complaint last spring urging the Justice Department to investigate the BCS for antitrust violations.

What's more, despite having access to the nation's best mathematicians, the BCS can't even get its rankings right, many critics argue. Famed sports statistician Bill James has said the rankings are based on "nonsense math." Hal Stern, a professor at the University of California-Irvine, has even called for a BCS boycott in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis.

Then there are the university presidents. Faced with continuous funding cuts, they're bound to go looking for new revenue at some point.

Because college basketball's March Madness generates more than $600 million a year, schools might belatedly realize that a playoff for football, the more popular sport, is sure to bring a torrent of cash.

Hancock seems to know the end is near, though he won't say it outright. The BCS contract expires in 2014, and he acknowledges that dozens of new proposals are floating around college football.

History says the insiders will try to change as little as possible. Every few years since the dawning of the BCS, they've offered minor concessions, just enough to keep attorneys general and nosy congressmen at bay. But the bowls' duplicity is so obvious they can't hold on much longer.

"I want what's best for the students," Hancock says.

If he's being honest with himself, he can't help but push for reform. After all, he has to know that at the bottom of this insiders' pyramid are those who can afford it least — the kids paying tuition.

"What's really egregious," Morgan says, "is they shift that burden to their students."

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12 comments
j50wells
j50wells

Also, I get tired of these sports announcers that try to make us feel guilty for complaining about the current system. I hear it all the time from these guys, "Oh, here it comes, complaints from a team that thinks they should have a got a Bowl bid. Obviously they didn't make the BCS bids. So stop complaining!" When the real truth is that they rigged the games for their pocket books and not for the teams or the fans. The sports announcers are part of the racket because they defend the corruption and keep it quiet in order to protect their careers. C'mon man, what are you trying to sell? A sport that doesn't have a playoff? Are you serious? We're supposed to buy this garbage?

j50wells
j50wells

This won't end next year. I already see corruption in next years committee that will pick the four teams that will play in the play-off. Condoleezza Rice? What? This smells of corruption. It will be the same people playing the same insider tricks. And why do people buy into this stuff? Why would anyone watch a game that doesn't have a true playoff? That's where the real issue is. It starts with the fans. If you agree to watch a game that doesn't require a playoff and a true champion, then that's what you will get. It's really basic stuff, and pretty simple.

joblow2000
joblow2000

money 


money 


money  $$$$


70-90% of college sports budget comes from Football/basketbal.  

Anyone paid money to see a table tennis match.

if you know nothing, know about the money.. it all about the money in college sports.

keep the money $$$$, flowing, the only people exploited are the """"student -athletes""" who do NOT get a single penny to play.

biggest scam in USA.  Free workers/free labors. All you got give them is Free chicken/Fee dorm/Free pass to class/Free pass to library...

Mikoe Wozz
Mikoe Wozz

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Lbilquist
Lbilquist

More abuse from people in power. It's criminal the amount of money these bowl execs make off the back of mostly poor minority football players. Why don't the NAACP or ACLU look into this!!

Mark
Mark

They need to take away the tax exempt status of the bowls since they do not really serve a charitiable purpose.

edgough123
edgough123

Why doesn't everyone just "Occupy" these games. College football is a loaded gun and stacked with fraud. Until the government, IRS starts to bring these thugs down, there will be no mercy. As seen at Penn State, they will abuse your children, lie to authorities, steal your money, and if you are real lucky, they will haze your kid and if he/she is lucky she just might survive. What the fuck is up with school these days. Kids take a few years off and travel the world - go to a school in Europei. You end up with too much college debt in the U.S. and pay into these Ponzi schemes to enrich the administration/coach "thugs".

Kpryan
Kpryan

Oh, and one last thing:

Why did it not surprise me to read this paragraph: "The coaches smiled, the bowl's anthropomorphic fruit mascot Obie danced, and Jeff Roberts — a local vice president of Goldman Sachs and the bowl's chairman — gave the company line."

It is shocking - SHOCKING to think that a 'Goldman Sachs local vice president (emphasis on the 'vice' word) is affiliated - no indeed the CHAIRMAN! of one of these rip off bowl games.

Kpryan
Kpryan

Terrific article.

While not taking away from the reality as reported, it should be noted that of the ubiquitous 'Athletic Directors', the article states: "(The A.D.'s).... they're not inclined to get too inquisitive over contracts. And this allows their so-called friends to utterly rip them off."

The AD's are as culpable as the school presidents and the rest who suck off the system. The AD's aren't 'getting ripped off'. The dollars aren't coming out of their pay. Check out what the average AD earns per year. Coaches make millions of dollars a year, and presidents make a half million dollars a year and the AD's earn around a quarter of a million. No one earning that kind of pay is getting ripped off by anyone.

Rather, all (except the players and the fans) are getting rich off the bullshit system. That's why no one (with a few notable exceptions ... see Chris Petersen @ Boise St. [who probably wouldn't say anything if his team were playing for a national championship] ) will yell: "The emperor wears no clothes!"

It is disgusting.

And still the schools act as if paying the players a Grand a month would send the schools into banko court. It is OK to screw the fans with rising prices to attend games and the screw the players but God forbid someone associated with a Bowl or an employee of a university gets ripped off. Until they do, this fraudulent system will continue to burn those it claims to serve.

MiamiDanny
MiamiDanny

Disney/ESPN paid $500Million for 4 years of the BCS. That is $25Million PER GAME! The so-called losses you are talking about are chump change.

GILMORECLARETHA
GILMORECLARETHA

So what else is new everybody that is connected with government,school charities and etc finds a way to get over on the taxpayers,If there were no taxpayers there would be no extra free rides on the taxpayers back.

 
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