(Extensions of Remarks - April 17, 2008)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E644]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                         HON. NEIL ABERCROMBIE

                               of hawaii

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, April 17, 2008

  Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Madam Speaker, today I have joined with my 
colleagues Congressman Simpson of Idaho and Congressman Westmoreland of 
Georgia in introducing a resolution to end disparity in college sports 
that is an unintended consequence of the Bowl Championship Series 
(BCS). This resolution declares the BCS an illegal restraint on trade, 
and demands that the US Department of Justice take the proper actions 
to investigate and end the unfair BCS system. It also encourages the 
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to establish a true 
football playoff system to determine the national collegiate football 
champion in the interest of parity and sportsmanship.
  The BCS is fundamentally unfair. Non-BCS schools, those in 
conferences not automatically qualified for the BCS bowls, are at a 
disadvantage prior to the first kickoff of the season. Non-BCS schools 
must basically have perfect seasons, and must be the best of over 50 
schools to even be considered to play in a BCS bowl, while schools that 
belong to conferences that are automatically-qualified for BCS bowls 
(BCS schools) must only be the best of 8-12 schools, depending on the 
conference they compete in. Six of the ten schools that participate in 
the BCS bowls qualify by becoming the regular season champion of a BCS 
automatically-qualifying conference: the Atlantic Coast Conference 
(ACC), Big 10, Big 11, Big Fast, Pacific-10. and the Southeastern 
Conference (SEC). The four others are determined based on rankings, 
conference standings, and in some cases, selected by bowl officials. 
There is also a rule prohibiting more than one non-BCS school from 
competing in a single year.
  These unfair eligibility requirements produce effects that go far 
beyond restricting access to playing for the national championship. The 
BCS generates hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue annually, and 
this money is disproportionately awarded to BCS conferences. Of the 
more than $217 million generated by the 2006-2007 post-season bowls, 
$185 million, or 85 percent went to the BCS schools, which represent 
66, or 55 percent of Division I schools. Money generated by the post-
season games help schools cover costs for their athletic departments, 
facilities, equipment, recruitment, and other sports programs. Non-BCS 
schools must use their general funds to cover costs of their athletic 
departments, which takes funding from academic and administrative 
  The lopsided distribution of BCS revenue results in two tiers within 
the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division 1), those with 
access to the BCS, and those without. Those without are unable to 
change their situation as the money and prestige associated with the 
BCS makes it highly unlikely that a non-BCS school will be able to 
compete for the same recruits, coaches, sponsorships, national 
television exposure, and the revenue it generates. This disparity keeps 
them in the second-class status and must be changed.
  Questions about the legality of the BCS have also arisen. Legal 
scholars have analyzed the anti-trust aspects of the BCS, and some have 
concluded that the BCS violates the Sherman Anti-Trust Act under the 
Rule of Reason test. This requires that the competitive benefits of the 
system outweigh the anti-competitive effects. However, the anti-
competitive effects of the financial gain and recruiting advantage of 
the BCS schools can easily outweigh the pro-competitive benefits of 
arranging for the top two ranking BCS teams to play for the national 
  Many have called for the end of or change to the BCS, and the current 
system is only the latest reincarnation. The NCAA has, on multiple 
occasions, studied and considered moving to a playoff to determine the 
national champion. Successful BCS school football coaches and 
presidents have called for a playoff system, as have presidents of non-
BCS schools. Congress has held multiple hearings questioning the 
fairness of the BCS and states have introduced and passed legislation 
calling for changes to the system.
  NCAA football is the only college team sport without a playoff 
determining the national champion. While the NCAA Basketball 
Championship's format will not transfer perfectly to college football, 
it is an ideal system. All Division I schools start the season with an 
equal chance of making it to the playoffs. The championship is decided 
on the court by the players and their talent, not rankings and their 
schedule before the tournament. The basketball championship also allows 
for a nearly annual ``Cinderella story,'' an underrated team that 
defies expectations, upsets traditionally strong opponents and competes 
deep into the tournament. This year it was Davidson College, a member 
of the Southern Conference, which was seeded tenth in its region and 
made it to the Elite Eight, beating former champion Georgetown 
University, the University of Wisconsin and Gonzaga University along 
the way. This scenario is highly unlikely in the BCS system, as there 
is little chance for a non-BCS school to even be offered an invitation 
to play. Non-BCS schools, the University of Hawaii in 2008 and Boise 
State University in 2007 were undefeated going into the BCS and were 
not even given the opportunity to play for the national championship.
  Something must be done to ensure that money and opportunity are 
evenly distributed among all college football programs. Congress should 
act in the interest of all the athletes, coaches, staff and supporters 
to guarantee parity and competition in college football. The current 
system leaves much to be desired and I urge my colleagues to join me in 
support of this resolution calling for the NCAA Division I national 
champion to be determined by a playoff.