SBD/March 31, 2011/Colleges

Hancock Says Talk Of Eliminating Fiesta Bowl From BCS "Way Premature"

Hancock softens his stance
on Fiesta Bowl's BCS standing
BCS Exec Dir Bill Hancock "softened his stance Wednesday on expelling the Fiesta Bowl amid disclosure that he and other members of a BCS task force accepted gifts from the Fiesta and Orange bowls," according to Craig Harris of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Hancock said discussion of eliminating the Fiesta Bowl from the BCS was "way premature" and called it "irresponsible" for media to speculate which bowls, if any, would replace the Fiesta in the BCS. The BCS created a task force Tuesday to examine a 276-page report by Fiesta Bowl investigators "detailing a culture of excessive spending on Fiesta Bowl employees, politicians and business associates." Hancock said that the task force "within a few weeks should have a recommendation on how to proceed." Harris notes the seven-member task force includes a member who "for years let the Fiesta Bowl pay for his golf at a resort, and another who took a free Caribbean trip last year from the Orange Bowl." In addition, Hancock yesterday said that for "at least five years, while attending Fiesta Frolic, he let the Fiesta Bowl cover his golf tab and accepted free gifts from Nike." Hancock called the Frolic, an "annual, multiday spring gathering the bowl stages for college-football officials," a "remarkable business opportunity" for college football execs to network. He added that he "saw nothing wrong with letting the Fiesta Bowl pay for his golf." Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters, a member of the BCS task force, said that for "much of the past decade he attended Fiesta Frolic but that he only began paying for his own accommodations in 2006." Meanwhile, Univ. of Southern Mississippi AD Richard Giannini, also a member of the task force, in a statement said that "no one on the Orange Bowl-sponsored Caribbean trip for college athletic directors, conference commissioners and their wives received 'lavish gifts.'" He said that he "offered to resign from the task force, but he said he was told that would not be necessary" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/31).

TIME TO CLEAN IT UP: Hancock yesterday said of Fiesta Bowl officials, "They know that if they want to do business with us, they need to follow the letter of the law. If they fail to do so, they do it at their own peril" (AP, 3/30). ESPN's Joe Schad said, "There's no question that the Fiesta Bowl understands ... that their status as a non-profit organization and bowl is certainly in question." ESPN's Bruce Feldman added, "They're just going to have to try to clean up a lot of the expenses around it, because it looks like it was a really corrupt system" ("OTL," ESPN, 3/30). An ARIZONA REPUBLIC editorial states, "Above all else, the Fiesta Bowl board must create a transparent, open organization that cannot conspire to make illicit campaign contributions behind closed doors or perform 'research,' night after night, at strip clubs" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/31). Waters said, "We have no reason to suspect anything like this in any other bowl, but the fallout from this is going to be felt everywhere." Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan said, "Bowls that are not operating under the appropriate level of oversight should be concerned" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 3/31).

IN NEED OF REFORM: YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote if NCAA President Mark Emmert is "any kind of leader, he should be furious right now with the details of the Fiesta Bowl report." Bowls’ ability to "buy favor with administrators is indefensible." He should "demand a full investigation into the bowl business and seize control of the sport’s postseason from these third-party businessmen" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/30). SI.com's Andy Staples wrote, "The revelations unearthed in the Fiesta Bowl's scathing self-report prove more forcefully than ever that high-level bowls are scamming schools while university presidents bury their heads in the sand." All 120 FBS presidents "should get together and examine the rest of the bowls." Then, "after all the warts are exposed, they should decide if they want to keep outsourcing their biggest revenue generator to a system that invites corruption" (SI.com, 3/30). In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel writes, "The BCS is standing on moral outrage. ... But the BCS outrage stems from other motives. Self-preservation. The focus on whether the Fiesta Bowl will retain its BCS status is misguided. The focus should be on whether the BCS will retain its status as college football's playoff. And the answer increasingly is no" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 3/31). The AP's Tim Dahlberg wrote under the header, "Fiesta Bowl Fiasco Stains An Already Tainted BCS" (AP, 3/30). However, the Dallas Morning News' Tim Cowlishaw said this is not an "indictment of the bowl" system, "it's an indictment of strictly the Fiesta Bowl, mainly John Junker." ESPN's Bomani Jones: "It's not an indictment of the BCS, but it is an indictment of the bowls where this sort of money gets thrown around" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/30).

LINING UP TO JOIN THE BCS: SI.com's Murphy & McKnight noted if the Fiesta Bowl loses its place in the BCS, the "clear leader" to replace it is the Cotton Bowl (SI.com, 3/30). In Ft. Worth, Jimmy Burch writes, "The folks at the Cotton Bowl run a first-class game, have a title sponsor in place and play in the best stadium on the planet. It's a BCS-worthy package, for sure. Now that the Fiesta Bowl has inadvertently opened the door, the Cotton's future looks bright for BCS inclusion" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/31). ESPN.com's David Ubben noted, "No bowl can match the current stage and history of the Cotton, which has been played annually since 1937" (ESPN.com, 3/30). ESPN's Ryan McGee listed the Cotton Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl and Outback Bowl as possible replacements for the Fiesta (ESPN.com, 3/30). Capital One Bowl Exec Dir Steve Hogan has said that he "would aggressively pursue any vacant spot in the BCS lineup" for his game (AP, 3/30). Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, Garry Smits writes the Progressive Gator Bowl "will be poised to make its case" to host a BCS game. Gator Bowl Association President Rick Catlett said that it "would be premature to begin lobbying for a spot in the BCS." But he added, "We have always made it very clear that the Gator Bowl wants to be a part of the BCS" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 3/31).
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