Saturday, January 10, 2009
MAY THE BEST MAN WIN (NOT)
“In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.” - Sam Huff, NFL Hall of Fame middle linebacker.
As a first team All-American at West Virginia University, Sam Huff played in the Sugar Bowl 55 years ago. I don’t want to speak for Mr. Huff, but had he joined the other Sugar Bowl legends at the game last week, I’m sure he would have agreed that the best “man” won; but I wonder what he thinks of the unsportsmanlike system that has unfairly prohibited the men from the Mountain West Conference (and a thousand other NCAA Division I-A athletes who play in an “ugly stepsister conference) to ever have the chance to prove themselves, unarguably, the Best in the Nation. Instead, the BCS has artificially crowned THEIR national champion.
By now it's widely known that I am looking into the possibility of bringing an antitrust action against the BCS. The support from around the country has been overwhelming. However, a few have questioned my motives. Perhaps the following information will better explain the nature and purpose of my inquiry and why I have a duty to proceed with at least full due diligence in assessing whether to bring an antitrust action against the BCS:
1. As Attorney General, I have a duty to enforce federal and state antitrust laws.
2. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that antitrust laws apply to NCAA athletics.
3. The University of Utah and some other NCAA Division 1-A schools in Utah are taxpayer funded institutions and I have a duty to protect and defend them against violations of the law.
4. The BCS system involves millions of dollars a year of potential revenue to these institutions that could help replace dwindling taxpayer generated general fund monies. For the 2007-2008 bowl season, the BCS Championship Series distributed about $143 million in gross income for the twelve conferences participating in the BCS System. Two million dollars went to other miscellaneous distributees. Of that $143 million in gross income, 88% went to members of the six conferences with preferred eligibility to the Championship Series Bowls (with about 65 schools participating) and 12% went to six conferences with non-preferential eligibility (with about 54 schools participating). A similar split in the distribution of Bowl Championship Series gross income occurred in prior years. Additionally, the right of preferred entrance teams to act as the host venues for bowl games generates, according to the BCS, about $1.2 billion in secondary income benefits.
5. These schools, and my office, recognize the tremendous positive aspects of college sports and the great benefit a winning team can provide for the institution as well as the state.
6. If a system unreasonably restrains the opportunity of our educational institutions to freely and fairly compete to be designated as a national college football champion-a designation desired by football fans throughout the nation-such a system could unfairly deprive our institutions and my state of these important and significant revenues.
The stated purpose of the NCAA is: “to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner.” Hopefully the NCAA will get back to the basics and take back I-A football and create a fair and equal playoff system. Until then the Utes have as much right as the Gators to claim that this year the best men in college football did win - in New Orleans!