NCAA Says It Won’t Allow New Football Bowl Games for 3 Years

The National Collegiate Athletic Association won’t accept new applications for football bowl games for three years while it reviews its licensing process, President Mark Emmert said.

The moratorium on applications comes after a special investigative committee found that Fiesta Bowl employees were being encouraged to make political contributions for which they were later reimbursed and then executives tried to hide it.

Fiesta Bowl President and Chief Executive Officer John Junker wouldn’t cooperate with the investigation and was fired in March after the special committee found unauthorized and excessive compensation, non-business and inappropriate expenditures and inappropriate gifts.

The NCAA formed a task force to ensure bowls “have established conflict-of-interests policies, address issues of advertising and title-sponsorship standards and oversight of financial management is understood and explained,” Emmert said today on a media conference call.

The task force will be headed by Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and will include university presidents and other executives from the non-profit sector. It will report to Emmert by October.

The NCAA doesn’t run bowl games, as it operates the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and other championships.

Licensing Body

Its only function has been to license bowls, and that was largely dependent on the bowl’s ability to financially support the game.

Emmert said the NCAA has no plans to take over the football postseason from the individual bowls.

“Our job is to license them,” he said.

In April 2010, the NCAA reviewed 37 applications and licensed 35 bowl games for the 2010-11 through 2013-14 cycle, including two new bowls: the Dallas Football Classic in Dallas and the Pinstripe Bowl in New York.

Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford said he supported the effort.

“We want the bowls to operate with the highest standards, and although I think most do, I believe stronger NCAA oversight is a good idea,” Swofford said in a statement.

Emmert said he recommended the review in January, when the NCAA was looking at its role in the licensing process.

“I want to make sure the licensing process is robust enough that we have great confidence that when we license a bowl we know how it’s being governed,” Emmert said.

The Fiesta Bowl, founded in 1971, is a non-profit organization that annually hosts college football’s Fiesta Bowl game, as well as the Insight Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl game is part of the Bowl Championship Series that crowns a national champion.

New Safeguards

The Fiesta Bowl’s 22-member board, which voted unanimously to fire Junker, also adopted measures to ensure additional levels of transparency, including more reviews of compensation and expense reimbursement, as well as a comprehensive whistleblower policy.

Stephen Dichter, an attorney for Junker, responded to the special committee’s report in an e-mail to Bloomberg last month.

“We are in the process of reviewing the report and may have additional comments at a later date,” he said at the time. Dichter didn’t immediately return calls left before his offices opened this morning.

The probe by the special committee is separate from an Arizona attorney general’s investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing involving political contributions by Fiesta Bowl employees.

This season’s BCS title game is scheduled for Jan. 9, 2012, in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

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