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BCS Bowls To Face IRS Scrutiny

I’m a Wolverine alumnus.  Our football program recently bottomed out.  Bottomed out along with it?  My interest in tonight’s Bowl Championship Series national title game.  I’m far more entertained watching reruns of The Larry Sanders Show.

No, it’s not because of my alma mater’s  shortcomings with the pigskin.  It’s because of the current BCS bowl system.  To those unfamiliar,  it works like this:  After the regular season concludes, teams are paired and square off in separate bowl games.  That’s it.  Imagine the NCAA Basketball Tournament with only one round of play.

Some are so enraged by the BCS that militant bipartisan political activists have gathered to lead the charge towards a reformatting to a playoff system.  Part of their strategy?  Claims of tax evasion.

The New York Times reports:

In complaints to the Internal Revenue Service, [Playoff PAC] ha[s] raised questions involving three of the four bowls that make up the five-game Bowl Championship Series about interest-free loans, high salaries, lobbying payments and lavish perks for some bowl executives. They have also made accusations about illegal campaign contributions.

Try googling “Playoff PAC.”  The group’s website is the first hit, and provides the following description:  “Playoff PAC will bust the Bowl Championship Series and start a college football playoff. The BCS is anti-competitive, unfair, and violates anti-trust laws.”

Playoff PAC is backed by legitimate supporters, including Marcus Owens, a former director of the IRS division overseeing non-profit groups.  And Marcus Owens isn’t even a college football fan:  “The facts are pretty compelling that there is something going on there that is not charitable and educational, and it varies from bowl game to bowl game,” he said.

Among the allegations:

  • Illegal campaign contributions by the nonprofit organization running the Fiesta Bowl, the host of tonight’s game;
  • Failure of Fiesta Bowl officials to disclose lobbying on their federal tax returns; and
  • No business purpose for an all-expenses-paid Caribbean cruise hosted by the Orange Bowl hosted for 40 athletic directors and conference commissioners, and their spouses.

The Orange Bowl Committee’s response to the cruise allegation:  It “believes it is important to meet with its key stakeholders to communicate and advocate our business focus.”

Please.

If the IRS concludes its investigation finding federal tax law violations, the bowls may lose non-profit status, or face severe penalties.  Perhaps the bowls’ biggest loss would be the facilitation of the public’s already dwindling interest in a system that fails to properly crown a champion.

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