Economic Experts Ask Department of Justice to Investigate the BCS For Antitrust Violations

Twenty-one economists, law professors and economic practitioners sent a collective letter to the Department of Justice, urging its Antitrust Division to investigate the BCS. According to the letter, the BCS is a “cartel” that “secures a fixed and dominant portion of market access and revenue for its founding members.”

Here’s a summary of the arguments.

The BCS “shields” AQ schools from competition by “monopolizing” the BCS title game. It guarantees AQ champions a place regardless of merit. It blocks Non-AQ schools from creating a rival postseason system. It has “no pro-competitive justification.” The Bowls succeeded without it. Its purpose is to limit access.

They point out Miami and BYU won national titles outside AQ conferences in the 1980s, while eleven non-AQ teams have finished the regular season undefeated under the BCS without getting the opportunity to play for a national title.

The BCS mandates AQ schools receive between 86 percent and 91 percent of the revenue for no compelling reason financially or competitively. Games featuring Non-AQ schools received higher television ratings. Non-AQ schools have a 4-1 record against AQ schools in BCS bowls.

The BCS harms both schools and consumers. Non-AQ schools are denied benefits – “stronger alumni networks, increased admission applications and improved academic rankings” – from playing college football at the highest level. Consumers are denied alternatives to the BCS, pay higher prices because there’s no competition and are supplied with an inferior product.

Finally, “The BCS is the principal impediment to a competitive post-season playoff that would generate much-needed additional revenue for all schools.”

Your arguments are intriguing, experts. But, how can you deny student-athletes the opportunity to be the toast of the town for a week? Seeing the looks on the faces of those young men, can the University of Connecticut really complain about losing a mere $21,177 per player?

[Photo via Getty]

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