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Mark Shurtleff seeking to assemble BCS-busting legal team

Published: Thursday, June 30 2011 12:03 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is looking for a legal team in his quest to bust college football's Bowl Championship Series.

His office posted a request for information Tuesday at bidsync.com, a website government agencies use to solicit bids and contracts. The proposal seeks information from law firms interested in joining Shurtleff's battle against the BCS.

"There are serious antitrust violations in the BCS system that are robbing taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars," Shurtleff said in a statement. "Putting together the strongest legal team from around the country will give us the best chance of bringing equity back to college football."

The BCS was carefully created with antitrust laws in mind, Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS, said in a written statement.

"We remain confident that the BCS is a pro-competitive force in college football," Hancock said. "It has brought significant and unprecedented benefits to the game, the universities, the student-athletes and the fans."

Shurtleff's effort to sue the BCS appeared to pick up some momentum last month when the Department of Justice sent a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert asking him why there isn't a Football Bowl Subdivision playoff system.

"Serious questions continue to arise suggesting that the current Bowl Championship Series system may not be conducted consistent with the competition principles expressed in the federal antitrust laws," wrote Christine Varney, head of the Department of Justice's antitrust division.

The letter was the first sign that Department of Justice officials may look into the much-maligned system. Varney referenced Shurtleff's intention to file an antitrust lawsuit against the BCS. It would seek damages for schools, including the University of Utah and Boise State, that have lost out on millions of dollars over the last several years because the existing system keeps nonpreferred conferences at a competitive disadvantage. That Utah joins the Pac-12 this year makes no difference, he said.

The attorney general has said that he could file as early as this summer. But the deadline for law firms to respond to his request for information is Aug. 8, likely pushing back any legal action to later this fall at the earliest.

The request does not offer a contract but simply seeks interest in being considered for a legal team. It asks law firms to list their qualifications, experience in investigating and litigating similar cases and whether they have already undertaken an analysis of the BCS system.

It also aims to assess possible fee arrangements including pro bono, contingencies and fixed or hourly rates.

email: romboy@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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