Utah AG: Boise State's exclusion from BCS bowl helps suit

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Dec 6, 2011


SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) - Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says the Boise State University football team's exclusion from a Bowl Championship Series game strengthens a lawsuit he plans to file against the BCS.

Shurtleff told The Arizona Republic on Monday he suspects there is "mischief" going on within the system.

"There is so much money and power and control with these old traditional bowls, and they want to keep that power and control and decide who gets the money, and it's evident in this case," he said in the report.

Boise State, who finished No. 7 in the BCS standings, did not earn a BCS bowl berth this season. Instead, it will play an unranked, 6-6 Arizona State team in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22.

Meanwhile, a No. 11-ranked Virginia Tech team will face No. 13 Michigan in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3, and No. 15 Clemson will play No. 23 West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 4. Both are considered two of the top five bowls, including the National Championship Game.

Shurtleff has been planning a federal lawsuit against the BCS since April, when he said he believed other state attorneys general would join him in the antitrust lawsuit.

In fact, the attorney general has been investigating the BCS since undefeated Utah was shut out of the National Championship Game in 2008.

On top of that, the BCS has come under fire after it was discovered that the Fiesta Bowl, one of system's top bowl games, was at the center of a scandal that involved excessive spending and political contributions. Bowl President John Junker was fired in the wake.

"There are serious antitrust violations in the BCS system that are robbing taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars," Shurtleff has said. "Putting together the strongest legal team from around the country will give us the best chance of bringing equity back to college football."

In June, the attorney general announced he was accepting bids from private firms interested in representing the State in its suit. He gave firms that were interested in the job an Aug. 8 deadline.

However, Shurtleff told the Republic this week that the process of hiring outside counsel is taking longer than he expected. He said he now plans to file suit in February.

Shurtleff argues that teams from lesser-known conferences, like the Mountain West Conference, do not get an automatic bid into a BCS bowl, placing them at a competitive and a financial disadvantage.

Boise State currently plays in the Mountain West, but is reportedly expected to join the Big East Conference in 2013.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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