BCS chief will meet with Department of Justice officials this summer

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Call it the Alphabet Soup summit involving the BCS and DOJ -- but thankfully not the NCAA.

Now let’s get down to the letter of the law.

Bowl Championship Series Executive Director Bill Hancock said Thursday that he would meet sometime this summer with Department of Justice officials to discuss college football’s postseason system.


Hancock said the DOJ called last week to ask for the meeting.

‘I told them I would be happy to provide it,’ Hancock said in a statement.

The department is investigating whether the BCS might violate antitrust laws. Last month, DOJ asked the NCAA to explain why college football does not have a playoff. NCAA President Mark Emmert responded that his organization does not run college football’s postseason and redirected the DOJ to the BCS.

The NCAA lost control of college football after a 1984 Supreme Court decision that found the organization guilty of antitrust violations in restricting television rights. That allowed networks to negotiate deals with individual conferences and ultimately produced the framework that led, in 1998, to the six-conference power structure known as the BCS.

Presidents of BCS-conferences schools have adamantly opposed an NCAA-type playoff they claim would diminish college football’s regular season and damage a bowl system that pre-dates the formation of the NCAA.

Ratings, attendance and television revenue for college football have increased dramatically since the BCS was formed. Opponents claim it is exclusionary to schools not in the six BCS conferences -- the Pac 12, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Southeastern and Atlantic Coast, or so-called automatic qualifiers (AQ).

BCS lawyers have maintained that the system does not violate the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.

‘The BCS was carefully created with antitrust laws in mind, and I am confident that it is fully compliant with those laws,’ Hancock said. ‘It has improved competition by delivering a national championship game between the two top-ranked teams, which only rarely existed before the BCS. It has also dramatically increased access to top-tier bowl games for schools from non-AQ conferences. I look forward to a conversation with the attorneys at the Justice Department.”

The BCS matches the top two teams annually using a rankings system that includes polls and a computer component. The champions of the six BCS leagues are guaranteed bids to one of four BCS bowls -- the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange. Champions from the five conferences without automatic qualification can be selected with a top 14 finish. The top ‘non-AQ’ team ranked in the top 12 each season earns a guaranteed bid.

-- Chris Dufresne