Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The picture isn't getting any prettier for scandals in college athletics. While reporters uncover ever-more dismaying information regarding the operation of athletic programs at major universities, operations of the college bowls have come under increasing scrutiny on the tax side. Last year it was the Fiesta Bowl (see post here). Now, Sports Illustrated reports that the Sugar Bowl made donations to then-governor Kathleen Blanco's (Louisiana) campaign in the mid-2000's, a clear violation of the prohibition in Section 501(c)(3) against campaign intervention by charities.
Are college football bowls REALLY charities? Nah. Just like the athletic programs that participate in them, the bowls have become simply part of the big business machine of major college athletics. And just like I argue that most nonprofit hospitals are just big businesses with little charitable about their operation, the bowls are even worse - there is hardly even a pretense of "educational" content. And like nonprofit hospitals, perhaps the time has come to strip the entire college bowl system of exempt status under 501(c)(3) status. Operating a minor league playoff system (and doing it poorly, at that) is hardly a charitable enterprise.