Entertainment & Sports Law

DOJ Considers Antitrust Probe of Bowl Championship Series, Asks NCAA to Explain Procedure


In a letter to the National College Athletic Association made public today, the U.S. Department of Justice announces that it is considering an antitrust probe of the way the participants in the Bowl Championship Series are selected.

Unlike many other college sports, college football doesn’t have a playoff to determine which schools can participate in the BCS, points out Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney in the letter, asking the NCAA for an explanation. She also notes that certain athletic conferences are excluded from a decision-making roles in determining the selection formula for BCS participants, CNN reports.

“Serious questions continue to arise suggesting that the current BCS system may not be conducted consistent with the competition principles expressed in federal antitrust laws,” she writes to Mark Emmert, who serves as president of the NCAA.

BCS executive director Bill Hancock tells USA Today that once his organization receives the letter, he will be happy to respond. “We’re confident the BCS event complies with the law,” Hancock is quoted saying.

The Blog of Legal Times provides a copy of the letter (PDF).

Related coverage:

USA Today (2008): “NCAA agrees to $10M settlement in antitrust lawsuit”

Indianopolis Star (2009): “3 lawsuits may change how NCAA operates”

Last updated at 5:49 p.m. to add quote from Hancock.

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