Regular readers might remember Alamo Bowl executive director Derrick Fox from the BCS' date on Capitol Hill earlier this month, when, representing all 34 bowl games, he told a Congressional subcommittee that "almost all the postseason bowl games are put on by charitable groups" and "local charities receive tens of millions of dollars every year." Well, probably not, since I watched every minute of that hearing and don't remember anything about Fox except his Rafael Palmeiro-worthy mustache.
But a pair of my muckraking Yahoo! Sports colleagues, Dan Wetzel and Josh Peter, recalled Fox's comments well enough to undermine them completely:
In fact, 10 bowl games are privately owned and one is run by a branch of a local government. The remaining 23 games enjoy tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, but combined to give just $3.2 million to local charities on $186.3 million in revenue according to their most recent federal tax records and interviews with individual bowl executives.
One would-be reformer who might be interested in that information is Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking "nonprofit cop," who just learned the results of the Congressional Budget Office review of college athletic programs' tax-exempt status that he ordered back in 2007. But the first Congressman Wetzel and Peter went to with their investigation was, of course, Texas Rep. Joe Barton, the ranking "BCS cop," who didn't take the news in a very forgiving tone:
"That doesn’t seem like something that’s really geared toward giving to charity, does it?" said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) after being presented with Yahoo! Sports’ findings.
"It’s perjury if it’s knowingly said," Barton said of the sworn testimony, which he called "misleading." "It’s also contempt of Congress. You’ve got to give [him] some sort of due process, but ultimately the remedy is to hold [him] in contempt of Congress on the House floor or send it to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution of perjury under oath."
According to Wetzel's and Peter's (lengthy and detailed) report, Fox submitted a written statement that his testimony was "a good faith estimate based on information initially supplied by the FBA [Football Bowl Association]," but another member of the FBA, Bruce Binkowski, said "the organization doesn’t compile such figures and in literature doesn’t assign a dollar amount to the bowls’ charitable donations because 'we just don’t know.'" Fox reportedly said last week he "needed a day" to confirm the figures to the reporters, but didn't respond, and also delivered this howler:
When asked if he thought a multinational corporation such as ESPN, which owns six bowl games, qualifies as a "charitable group," Fox said, "Well, they’re certainly involved in charitable activities."
Barton, ever the opportunist where needling the BCS is involved, said he would try to bring the BCS in front of the "powerful" House Committee on Energy and Commerce -- the same committee that grilled Roger Clemens over alleged steroid abuse last year, leading to a perjury charge against the pitching legend -- and is considering sicking the IRS on the bowls to examine their tax-exempt status and possibly require bowls to make charitable donations from revenue through his pending anti-BCS legislation.
Again, you can always doubt the crusaders' effectiveness, but at least you can't say they don't care.