Non-BCS schools get record $$$, but still no comparison
The five non-Bowl Championship Series college athletic conferences
will receive a record $24 million from this year's BCS bowl games,
according to BCS figures obtained by The Associated Press Monday.
The distribution of money has been a main point of contention for critics of the Bowl Championship Series system in Congress. They have pushed legislation aimed at forcing the BCS to switch to a playoff system rather than the ratings system it currently uses to set the games that determine the college championship.
Despite the record amount that now goes to the non-BCS schools, it still represents a sum far less than that received by the half-dozen BCS conferences.
Most of the $24 million will go to the two non-BCS conferences that sent teams to BCS games: Mountain West Conference, at $9.8 million, and the Western Athletic Conference, at $7.8 million. The other three non-BCS conferences will divide the remainder.
That compares to $22.2 million each to the Big Ten and Southeastern BCS conferences, and $17.7 million each for the other four BCS conferences. Those first two received more because they each had two teams in BCS bowls.
Under the BCS system, the six BCS conferences get automatic bids to participate in top-tier bowl games while the other five don't. The non-BCS conferences will reap a record take this year because they sent two teams to BCS bowls for the first time -- Boise State and Texas Christian.
BCS executive director Bill Hancock told the AP the new numbers show the distribution is "fair and appropriate."
"It's an opportunity for us to remind people that every conference had a chance to earn automatic qualification, and will again, based on the current evaluation," he said. Hancock said that the BCS has helped all 11 conferences get more access, revenue and opportunity to play in the postseason. The previous record for non-BCS conferences was $19.3 million, set last year, he said.
Still, the figures aren't likely to win over critics in Congress.
Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, has cited the revenue discrepancy as a reason for his legislation that would ban the promotion of a postseason NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision game as a national championship unless it results from a playoff. The bill passed a subcommittee last month but faces an uphill battle in Congress.
In a telephone interview Monday, Barton responded to the figures with a shrug.
"So what?" he said. "What is the BCS theoretically about? I thought it was about the best teams playing the best teams. This simply acknowledges the reality that's it's not about that, but about revenue sharing. It's an economic cartel."
In the Senate, Utah Republican Orrin Hatch has called on President Barack Obama to ask the Justice Department to investigate whether the BCS violated antitrust laws, arguing that the millions of dollars at stake justify oversight by the federal government.
Craig Thompson, commissioner of the Mountain West Conference, last year called the money distribution system "grossly inequitable."
Neither Hatch nor Thompson immediately returned messages seeking comment on the BCS numbers.