BcS to senators: Mind your own business

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Roughly two and a half months ago, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, sent a letter to BcS executive director Bill Hancock seeking clarification as to, among other things, how the cartel organization distributes revenue derived from their non-playoff system of determining a national champion.

Thursday, Hancock and the BcS responded to the March letter, and let’s just say that their response likely won’t have Hatch/Baucus calling for the Justice Department dogs to be called off anytime in the near future.

In the first paragraph of Hancock’s letter, the director, basically, tells the senators that they should mind their own business when it comes to college football.  And, if they really wanted the information sought in the initial letter, all they had to do was Google “Bowl” “Championship” “Series” “official” “website”.

I am writing in response to your March 9 letter about the Bowl Championship Series (“BCS”) arrangement. While I appreciate your interest, I believe that decisions about college football should be made by university presidents, athletics directors, coaches and conference commissioners rather than by members of Congress. Of course, as you can imagine, we are always happy to talk about the benefits that the BCS has brought to this vibrant game, and we welcome this opportunity to provide additional information to you. Please note that much of the information that you have requested is available at http://www.BCSfootball.org and was provided to members of Congress during hearings last spring and summer.

(You can almost smell the smarm seeping through your screen at this very moment, can’t you?)

Hancock then went on to address the senators’ main point of contention, the distribution of revenues derived from the BcS.

On more than one occasion, Hancock noted that the non-automatic qualifying conferences — Mountain West, WAC, MAC, Sun Belt and Conference USA — had decided to pool all of the money so graciously given to them by the benevolent BcS and divide it amongst the five non-AQs.

The Sun Belt Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain WestConference and Western Athletic Conference (the “non-AQ conferences”) have elected to pool their revenue and distribute it under a formula that they have developed. That is solely their decision. The non-AQ conferences have the details of this arrangement. …

Your made reference to discrepancies in news accounts; those probably are related to the revenue-distribution plan that the five non-automatic qualifying conferences have adopted. …

If it qualifies automatically for a BCS game, a team from a conference without annual automatic-qualifying status will bring approximately $24.7 million (18% of net revenue) to its conference next season. A team from an automatic-qualifying conference will bring approximately $21.2 million net to its conference. The funds are distributed to the conferences, which then allocate their shares of the revenue according to their own revenue-sharing agreements.

Of course, that $24.7 million is divided amongst five leagues and nearly sixty schools, while each automatic qualifying conference receives $17.7 million — $22.2 million if two schools receive BcS bids — to split up amongst anywhere from eight to 12 schools, which I believe is the point of contention for Hatch and his supporters.  And I don’t believe the Utah senator will care that it was the five non-AQ conferences that decided to divvy up the BcS money this way; his point is the inequity in how the funds are initially disbursed.

Hancock also decided to use Hatch’s own Utes as a way to drive home the BcS’ message, that it’s the five non-AQs that are screwing themselves, not the BcS.  And that, without the the utter grace the BcS bestowed upon their lowly institution, Utah would’ve been playing in a lower tier — re: lower-paying — bowl game during their undefeated run in 2008.

For example, if the University of Utah qualifies for a BCS game in the 2010-11 season, it will earn for its conference approximately $24.7 million which, under the agreement among the Mountain West and the other four non-AQ conferences, would then be divided among the five conferences. The Mountain West certainly could keep all $24.7 million within the conference, or Utah could keep it all. The decision to share the revenue–and how to allocate it–was made, not by the full group of 11 BCS conferences, or by the six conferences that have earned annual automatic qualification, but by the five non-AQ conferences.

An example worth noting is that, if the BCS had not existed, Utah probably would have played in the Las Vegas Bowl in the 2008-09 season. Because of the BCS, the Utes played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl instead. The payment from the Las Vegas Bowl was approximately $900,000; for participating in the Sugar Bowl, the Mountain West’s share–after the five conferences divided the revenue–was $9 million. Obviously, the difference is significant.

The letter went on to say blah blah blahblah blah blah…

If you so desire, you can read the letter in its entirety right HERE.  As for myself, I feel the need to kneel before some porcelain.  Pardon me…