The BCS, Antitrust and Public Policy
This paper examines the history and the economics of the Bowl Championship Series, in the context of all college bowl games. The evidence suggests that the BCS restricts entry to the FBS conferences that are outside the BCS cartel and that the revenue distribution from the bowl games is highly skewed in favor of the six BCS conferences. The resulting revenue advantage enables the BCS conferences to perpetuate their historical predominance. The BCS selection process is based on a conceptually confused and biased system. The paper discusses the rationale proffered by the BCS for its system and then considers the antitrust arguments against the BCS. It concludes that the outcome of any antitrust claim would be uncertain, which together with the involved expense and time render problematic any antitrust strategy to break up the BCS cartel. Instead, the paper concludes with a call for a legislative solution that would open up the national championship to all FBS conferences, increase output, redistribute revenues more evenly throughout Division I and the rest of the NCAA, and provide more opportunities to college athletes.
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