SBD/April 1, 2011/Colleges

Fiesta Bowl Cancels This Year's Fiesta Frolic Event In Wake Of Scandal

The Fiesta Bowl for years "has hosted and covered nearly the entire cost of a three-day spring retreat called the Fiesta Frolic for college football coaches, athletic directors and conference commissioners at a Phoenix resort," but this year's program, slated for May 4-6 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, "has been canceled as the bowl works to repair its image," according to Craig Harris of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Fiesta Bowl officials Thursday said that they are "postponing the event until 2012" and that they have told invitees they are "searching for new leadership." Fiesta Bowl Dir of PR Andy Bagnato said that the bowl "lost at least $132,000 hosting the event for about 220 people" last year. The Fiesta Bowl Special Committee's investigative report noted that Fiesta Frolic's name "recently was changed at the request of attendees," and this year's event was called the Valley of the Sun Experience & Fiesta Bowl Seminars. BCS Exec Dir Bill Hancock Thursday "had no comment on the decision to postpone the event." He added that the BCS "has not changed its position regarding the Fiesta Bowl's future." Hancock: "The stance is they have been asked to demonstrate why they should remain a BCS bowl game" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/1). Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Ginger Rough reports "fallout from the Fiesta Bowl scandal continued at the Arizona Capitol on Thursday as the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee launched an inquiry into certain lobbying activities and campaign donations." Three state lawmakers "over the past 48 hours wrote checks to reimburse the bowl for free football game tickets, while others hustled to the Secretary of State's Office to amend their financial disclosure reports to list freebies from the bowl as gifts, as required by law" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/1). 

IN HOT WATER: In Phoenix, Mike Sunnucks reports the Fiesta Bowl "could sue ousted CEO John Junker and other committee executives for inappropriate and excessive expenses and perks." Fiesta Bowl Chair Duane Woods said that the bowl is "considering suing any executives who misspent money in an effort to recoup the funds" (PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/1 issue). In Phoenix, Bob Young notes Junker always was the "first to defend the bowl, to the point of paranoia," and he "fretted constantly about the bowl's place" in the BCS. Young: "The sad irony of it all is that Junker might be the very man who brings it all down. ... But make no mistake. This sort of behavior is not confined to the Fiesta. And bowl executives everywhere are squirming" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/1).

NEXT IN LINE? The PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL reports former D'Backs President and Suns VP & COO Rich Dozer "has been approached by Fiesta Bowl officials to take over the helm at the college bowl game." Sources said that Dozer is "interested in the position." Other names mentioned as a possible successor to Junker include Suns Senior VP/Brand & Business Development Jay Parry, former Suns Senior VP/Marketing Communications Ray Artigue and USA Basketball Chair Jerry Colangelo (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/31).
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