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The BCS, Antitrust and Public Policy


  • Andrew Zimbalist

    () (Department of Economics, Smith College)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Zimbalist, "undated". "The BCS, Antitrust and Public Policy," Working Papers 2009-01, Smith College, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:smt:wpaper:2009-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. I. Gilboa & A. W. Postlewaite & D. Schmeidler., 2009. "Probability and Uncertainty in Economic Modeling," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 10.
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    3. Hans-Werner Sinn, 1980. "A Rehabilitation of the Principle of Insufficient Reason," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(3), pages 493-506.
    4. Jay Lund & Ellen Hanak & William Fleenor & William Bennett & Richard Howitt & Jeffrey Mount & Peter Moyle, 2008. "Comparing Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta," PPIC Research Reports, Public Policy Institute of California, number deltab, dez..
    5. Shaw, W. Douglass & Woodward, Richard T., 2008. "Why environmental and resource economists should care about non-expected utility models," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 66-89, January.
    6. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
    7. Richard T. Woodward & W. Douglass Shaw, 2008. "Allocating Resources in an Uncertain World: Water Management and Endangered Species," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(3), pages 593-605.
    8. Ellen Hanak, 2007. "Envisioning Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta," PPIC Research Reports, Public Policy Institute of California, number deltaa, dez..
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • L44 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Antitrust Policy and Public Enterprise, Nonprofit Institutions, and Professional Organizations
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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