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BCS director says series benefits MWC schools

Published: Thursday, May 20 2010 5:13 p.m. MDT

Dear Mr. Senators, quit trying to run the business of college football.

That's basically the message sent by Bowl Championship Series Executive Director Bill Hancock in a letter to U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Max Baucus, D-Mont.,) Thursday. It came in response to letter sent in March by Hatch and Baucus, who have waged a war of words against the BCS, which they say is unfair to non-automatic qualifying schools like Utah and BYU.

"While I appreciate your interest," Hancock wrote, "I believe that decisions about college football could be made by university presidents, athletics directors, coaches and conference commissioners rather than by members of Congress."

The letter is five pages and single-spaced and features two attachments totaling more than six pages.

When Hatch and Baucus sent their letter to the BCS in March, Hatch also issued a press release that stated, "It's clear that the BCS is fundamentally unfair and harmful to schools, students, college football fans and consumers throughout the country ... The architects of the BCS should provide the public with more information to dispel the notion that the system is explicitly designed to favor certain teams while disfavoring others."

Among other topics, Hancock responded by addressing the issue of revenue distribution, citing how Utah and the Mountain West Conference have benefited from being participants in the BCS system.

"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," Hancock wrote. "The Mountain West certainly could keep all $25.7 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."

Hancock continued: "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 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."

Other topics Hancock addressed in the letter included information about the competition for annual automatic qualifying conference status, the BCS structure and governance, and the process for compiling the BCS standings.

Much of the information contained in the letter has been in the public domain and is available on its website, www.bcsfootball.org.

e-mail: jeffc@desnews.com

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