Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Monday, June 1, 2009

Assessing the Antitrust Case Against the Bowl Championship Series

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Andrew Zimbalist (Smith College - Econ) writes on Assessing the Antitrust Case Against the Bowl Championship Series.

ABSTRACT: In an uncertain world, one predictable event is that the Bowl Championship Series (“BCS”) perennially engenders widespread skepticism and strident criticism. In 2008-09, Florida (13-1) beat Oklahoma (12-2) to win the putative college football national championship. No one disputes that Florida and Oklahoma were among the nation’s best teams, but Utah (13-0), USC (12-1), and Texas (12-1) all feel they deserved a shot at the title. Indeed, Texas even beat Oklahoma in a regular season game.

This year, the president of the United States is also weighing in. President Obama stated: “If I’m Utah, or if I’m USC or if I’m Texas, I might still have some quibbles. That’s why we need a playoff.”

In place since 1998, the BCS purports to determine the national champion in college football, while preserving the century-old system of postseason bowl games. To make its determination of which teams go to the championship game, the BCS employs the USA Today Coaches Poll, the Harris Interactive College Football Poll, and an average of six computer rankings...

Does the BCS violate U.S. antitrust laws and is it vulnerable to an antitrust challenge?

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