Congress to probe BCS antitrust issues

Updated: March 25, 2009, 8:01 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Everyone from President Barack Obama on down to fans has criticized how college football determines its top team. Now senators are getting off the sidelines to examine antitrust issues involving the Bowl Champion Series.

The current system "leaves nearly half of all the teams in college football at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to qualifying for the millions of dollars paid out every year," the Senate Judiciary's subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights said in a statement Wednesday announcing the hearings.

Under the BCS, some conferences get automatic bids to participate in series, while others do not.

Obama and some members of Congress favor a playoff-type system to determine the national champion. The BCS features a championship game between the two top teams in the BCS standings, based on two polls and six computer ratings.

Behind the push for the hearings is the subcommittee's top Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. People there were furious that Utah was bypassed for the national championship despite going undefeated in the regular season.

The title game pitted No. 1 Florida (12-1) against No. 2 Oklahoma (12-1); Florida won 24-14 and claimed the title.

The subcommittee's statement said Hatch would introduce legislation "to rectify this situation." No details were offered and Hatch's office declined to provide any.

Hatch said in a statement that the BCS system "has proven itself to be inadequate, not only for those of us who are fans of college football, but for anyone who believes that competition and fair play should have a role in collegiate sports."

In the House, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, has sponsored legislation that would prevent the NCAA from calling a football game a "national championship" unless the game culminates from a playoff system.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press