TU Law Professor Among Those Requesting Justice Department Investigate BCS

Friday, April 15, 2011

Twenty-one law and economic professors and antitrust experts, including The University of Tulsa College of Law Professor Ray Yasser, sent a letter this week to the United States Department of Justice requesting the DOJ launch an investigation of college football’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The signatories to the letter allege that the BCS violates the Sherman Antitrust Act.

The letter, which calls the BCS "a cartel that controls distribution of competitive opportunities and benefits associated with major college football’s post-season," was directed to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division.

The letter explains how the BCS harms competition by restraining output, fixing prices, reducing quality, and cartelizing previously independent bowl games as a means of blocking the emergence of rival post-season systems, such as a playoff. As a result of these anti-competitive aspects of the BCS, consumers receive a lower quality, more expensive college football post-season.

Yasser teaches Sports Law at the TU College of Law, is the co-author of the book, Sports Law: Cases and Materials, and is working on a book about international sports law. He has served as plaintiff’s counsel in more than 70 Title IX (gender equality) sports cases, and he has also represented numerous athletes in eligibility disputes.

"Over 25 years ago, the University of Oklahoma brought an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA which challenged the legality of limiting the number of college football games which could be televised," Yasser said. "Their ultimate success in that lawsuit, which made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States, has proven to be beneficial to 'consumers' ( antitrust parlance for 'fans'), who now enjoy access to lots of televised college football. We feel that the prevailing BCS arrangements illegally deprive non-BCS schools of revenue that would be derived from a merit-based championship event. We also contend that the BCS collusion deprives consumers of something that a free market would ensure – a legitimate championship event in intercollegiate football."

Scott Been