Mark Shurtleff Is Filing Anti-Trust Lawsuit Against BCS

We have heard this before from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. He has made promise of suing the BCS in the past.. We also have heard this from Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, but nothing has happened. Then recently, 21 economists and lawmakers wrote a letter to the Department of Justice asking it to investigate the BCS on antitrust grounds. The DOJ has said this before as well and as recently as Jan. of 2010, but again nothing has happened.

Not sure what Mark Shurtleff was doing the past three years when he what seemed conveniently going after the BCS when the spot light was at its brightest, but now after that letter was issued to the DOJ Shurtleff seems motivated. A lot of people in the Utah market felt the BCS hate would die down now that Utah is heading to greener pastures and joining the Pac-12.

However, the timing is great with the troubles that the Fiesta Bowl is having and the speculation that the Orange and Sugar Bowls could possibly be next in line for an investigation due to their spending habits while operating as a non-profit.

Shurtleff is suing the BCS on anti-trust grounds, which according to lawyers is the best way to challenge the BCS in court and spoke to USA Today about his plans:

he'll [Shurtleff] pursue the action in federal court within the next couple of months and likely will be joined by attorneys general in at least two other states.

"I think more will get involved," Shurtleff says, "as they have a chance to look at what we're talking about - that this isn't about bragging rights, it isn't some kind of frivolous deal, there are serious antitrust violations that are harming taxpayer-funded institutions to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. And the right thing to do, regardless of whether teams in your state benefit, is to go after the antitrust violations ... all the way from the Sherman Act through price fixing."

Do not confuse this lawsuit at forcing a playoff, because this lawsuit is about money. The non-BCS schools who crack a BCS game do not get the share as do the conference champions of the BCS leagues, but instead they take half for their league and then share amongst the other non-BCS leagues.

This suit is seeking damages that could reach in the hundreds of millions of dollars, plus it mentions that the inequity of the payouts and television contracts put the non-BCS leagues at a competitive disadvantage. The second part of that could be reach since Utah and TCU both made a BCS game while being on a vastly inferior television deal and if Texas did not get the extra second on the board TCU may have played in the national title game in 2009.

BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock was of course asked for comment on this lawsuit and while he was not able to do that he did provide some classic commentary on the BCS:

"I'm not an attorney," he says, "but I know antitrust laws challenge entities that limit access and the BCS provides access in spades."

"The BCS also doesn't limit supply," Hancock argues. "There's more (bowl) games than ever before. It's created a national championship game that didn't exist before. So in terms of access for the consumer and supply for the consumer, and just access in general, contrary to limiting that, the BCS has enhanced it."

While 10 spots is better then eight saying that the BCS " provides access in spades?" Just tell that to the 2004 and 2008 Boise State teams that went undefeated and were not given access to a BCS bowl game. Hancock is using technicalities when he mentions more bowl games. There are only five BCS bowl games which is in an increase, but it sounds like he is referring to the gluten of bowl games in general which are obviously not part of the BCS rotation. Hancock is just a PR spin master, nothing more.

Now, if the courts were to say the BCS were violating anti-trust lawsuits the BCS will have to restructure their payout structure and could go back to the old bowl system which was legal then and made it virtually impossible for any team outside of the BCS leagues to get a shot at one of the premiere bowl games.

With money being the driving factor, I can only hope that the conference commissioners and school presidents realize that a playoff could solve this issue where the payout is the same to all teams/leagues that make the tournament and get more money the further they advance.That is not likely to happen since the people in charge are attached at the hip to these bowl games because of tradition of the bowl system that includes the amazing history of the BBVA Compass Bank Bowl, Little Casears Bowl, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl plus the many other  games that have only been around the past decade to fill up programming by ESPN. So yeah, that tradition is in the way.

I totally agree with Team Speed Kills who wan this issue to just to go to court already so a ruling can come down on the BCS in a court of law.

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