Former Fiesta Bowl COO Natalie Wisneski faces a nine-count indictment in federal court for covering up illegal campaign contributions and filing false tax returns. Wisneski allegedly directed bowl employees to make personal campaign contributions reimbused by the Fiesta Bowl, conspired to cover up, had bowl employees lie to the Federal Election Commission, and filed tax returns indicating the Bowl spent no money on lobbying (actual amount: $1.5 million over ten years).
Wisneski was the second-highest ranking figure at the Fiesta Bowl. Her testimony implicated former Fiesta Bowl Chief Executive John Junker and a former political consultant Gary Husk who have yet to face charges.
All this negativity, talk of arrests and corruption and pointing out blatant cartels, distracts us from the true point here.
Think of the poor university presidents and athletic directors if there were no bowl games. They would fly in for a playoff game the night before, have dinner, spend the next day at a football game and fly home. The BCS offers them a chance to spend a week at a resort playing golf and attending lavish banquets on the university’s dime. Bowls run frolics, cruises and further golf outings throughout the year. They offer a clear benchmark to work five and six-figure bonuses into contracts. The BCS and bowl system provide university bigwigs with a superior experience to just about any other walk of life. Getting rid of the bowl games would end all that. And for what? An entertaining and fair post-season? More athletic departments turning profits and eschewing student subsidies?