The Fiesta Bowl Gets Slapped on the Wrist
For illegal chicanery including, but not limited to, allowing its former CEO John Junker to reimburse political campaign contributions from the bowl revenues and permitting Junker to run up extravagant, frivolous, non-bowl-related expenses on the bowl's dime, the Fiesta Bowl will pay a $1 million fine to maintain its status as a BCS bowl and keep its spot in the lucrative national championship rotation.
So for those of you out there hoping that the Cotton Bowl might get its relevance ticket re-punched by taking the Fiesta Bowl's spot in the BCS rotation, you can stand down now. It's not gonna happen, nor was it ever gonna happen.
Because this is the system we have. This is college football's "post season." A slew of consolation games that are really just corporate boondoggles conducted under the veil of "charitable endeavor." To be fair, some of the bowls actually do what they profess to do; however, Dan Wetzel's tremendous takedown of the bowl system entitled Death to the BCS paints a pretty maddening picture of bowl executives at many bowls who use their bowl's revenue stream as their own personal slush funds.
The Fiesta Bowl was the poster child.
According to the Associated Press:
A recent internal report by the Fiesta Bowl detailed about $45,000 in reimbursements to employees for political donations, an apparent violation of federal and state laws. It also revealed lavish and inappropriate spending, such as $33,000 for a Pebble Beach, Calif., birthday bash for then-CEO and president John Junker; $13,000 for the wedding and honeymoon of an aide; and a $1,200 strip club tab for Junker and two others. Junker has been fired.
There are any number of ways to provide perspective on just how ridiculously insignificant the $1 million "fine" (which will go to charities benefiting "Arizona's youth," a group which presumably does not include strippers) is. A few of my personal favorites:
-- The $1 million fine should be fairly easy to come up with considering that number is a mere 40 percent of the nearly $2.5 million of unused tickets that the University of Connecticut had to pay for. Did the Connecticut governor at least get a wedding invite to the "aide's" wedding?
-- Junker's annual salary was $674,000. So assuming that you don't need to replace an employee whose sole function, as best I can tell, was using internal funds to forward his political agenda, send his assistant on a kick-ass honeymoon, and corner the market on "dibs" for the champagne room, then the savings in Junker's salary and expense account alone practically pay for the "fine."
-- In a filing with the IRS this year, the Fiesta Bowl showed over $15 million in net assets. One million dollars? Parking ticket.
Ever the sleuths, the oversight committee Wednesday said they were "deeply troubled" by the Fiesta Bowl's actions. Those actions, the task force said, strongly suggest "that the bowl's executive staff frequently acted with scant regard for ethics and proper conduct. Further, it is the opinion of the task force that the bowl's board of directors over the years was negligent in its oversight responsibilities."
Ya think so, doctor?
The Fiesta Bowl is supposedly not out of the woods yet:
An NCAA panel will decide whether to continue licensing the bowl. That panel recently delayed the decision, saying it wanted to gather more information and review the BCS task force findings. The NCAA also said it will re-examine its role in licensing bowls more generally and has put a three-year hold on any new postseason games in the wake of the Fiesta Bowl's problems.
There you go, college football fan. This farcical system got another reprieve today, and your only hope for some level of justice resides with the NCAA.
Scary. How scary? Well, you know the old saying that "The NCAA got so angry at Ohio State that they nailed Miami of Ohio?"
Well, if I'm the Insight Bowl I'm shaking in my boots right about now.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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