Darren Everson of the Wall Street Journal reports that a group of twenty one professors and lawyers have requested that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) for potential violations of antitrust law. The group sent a letter to the Department of Justice claiming that “[t]he BCS shields preferred schools from competition by erecting barriers to competitive post-season entry, provides favored schools with fixed benefits, and harms consumers of post-season college football.”
It remains to be seen whether the Department of Justice is willing to get involved with the BCS. What is relatively clear is that a playoff in college football will not happen without external pressure and perhaps a lawsuit. A recent USA Today article by Steve Weiberg on the NCAA referenced Unsportsmanlike Conduct, the book written by the NCAA’s first CEO, Walter Byers, which reinforces this concept:
[Unsportsmanlike Conduct] repudiated much of what Byers was instrumental in building during his 36 years with the association, railing at what he saw as the exploitation of college athletes and maintaining that “the major hope for reform lies outside the collegiate structure.”
Wrote Byers,“What the colleges will not do voluntarily should be done for them.” (emphasis added)
In other words, the best hope for change in big-time collegiate athletics lies in the courts.