Shurtleff balks at BCS's hiring of Ari Fleischer's firm

Chris Rizo Nov. 23, 2009, 5:58pm

Mark Shurtleff (R)

Ari Fleischer

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline)-Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Monday that it is telling that a college football playoff system has hired a former White House spokesman to defend the Bowl Championship Series.

The Utah attorney general is planning to sue the Bowl Championship Series over what he calls federal antitrust issues because teams from lesser-known conferences, like Utah's Mountain West Conference, do not get an automatic bid into a BCS bowl, placing them at a competitive and financial disadvantage.

Shurtleff has been critical of the BCS after his home-state Utes were excluded from the title game last season despite their perfect record.

Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and his sports public relations firm were hired to defend the Bowl Championship Series, a system designed to give the top two teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision an opportunity to compete in a national championship game.

"I think hiring Ari Fleischer clearly demonstrates that they're sweating it," Shurtleff said on KSL Newsradio on Monday. "They hire a guy, I'm sure at no small fee, to spin the BCS into something good, and he's going to have a heck of a job trying to do that."

BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock announced Fleischer Communications' hiring Saturday.

In a statement, Hancock said the move was made to help highlight the positive aspects of the BCS.

"All the spin in the world isn't going to save them in court," Shurtleff said. "These guys will do anything to hold on to their power, their monopoly, their control," he also said.

Fleischer was press secretary for U.S. President George W. Bush from January 2001 to July 2003. His firm's clients have included Major League Baseball and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

More News