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For BCS Bowls, Charity Begins at Home

Joe Barton wants a D-1 college football playoff.

Unlike most others who feel that way, Barton thinks he can do something about it. Barton, who went to A&M, is a representative in the U.S. House, and he has introduced three bills aimed at doing away with the BCS.

Barton is also the ranking Republican on the House Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee. Earlier this month Derrick Fox, the executive director of the Alamo Bowl represented all 34 bowl games, testifying that local charities receive tens of millions of dollars from bowl games every year.

According to Yahoo! Sports, however, the 23 bowl games that have tax exempt status gave $3.2 million to charities out of a total of $186.3 million in revenue, based on their latest federal tax report.

Barton thinks that Fox's testimony bordered on perjury and is threatening to have him investigated for contempt of Congress.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford and Alamo Bowl Director Derrick Fox testified in favor of the BCS bowl system earlier this month.

Atlantic Coast Commissioner John Swofford was also on hand to defend the BCS system. Both Swofford and Fox pointed to two main reasons for keeping things as they are.

1. Donations to local charities
2. The economic impact that bowls have on host cities.

Of the 34 bowls, 23 enjoy non-profit status with the IRS. Ten bowls are privately owned and one is run by a branch of a local government. ESPN owns six bowls, and Derrick Fox thinks that the WWL qualifies as a "charitable group."

Derrick Fox testified before Congress that ESPN is "involved in charitable activities."

Out of the $3.2 million that the 23 bowls donated to charity, half of that amount (1.6 million) came from just two bowls -- the Orange Bowl and the Chick-fil-A-Bowl.

As for the argument that the bowl games pump money into the host cities, more than a third of last season's bowl games (12 of 34) invited a local team --either from the host city or less than two hours away -- to play in their game. A study by the Alamo Bowl reports that spending by local residents is considered to be "displaced spending" and has zero economic impact.

Even BCS proponents acknowledge that a playoff system would generate more revenue than the current system.

It really comes down to the Golden Rule:

The six BCS conferences received 87.4% of the BCS revenue based on the latest report. Those same six conferences took home 61% of the revenue realized from the NCAA basketball tournament.

While a football playoff might bring in more money, it probably means ceding power to the NCAA to run it, and that means a revenue sharing program more like basketball. And that is what the BCS conferences want to avoid at all costs.