Published October 27, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said he's dropping his plans to sue the Bowl Championship Series because of the organization's recent decision to move to a playoff system.
Shurtleff announced last year that he was seeking antitrust law firms to join a potential federal lawsuit aimed at disbanding the BCS.
But Shurtleff told KTVX-TV on Friday that he believes the lawsuit threat helped prompt the decision to go to a four-team playoff format in 2014.
"We do think what we were doing led to their changes, and at the end of the day that's what we wanted them to do," he said. "We wanted them to make the changes."
A committee of university presidents approved the four-team playoff in June.
The BCS was established in 1998 to run the top tier of college football's postseason and to set up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 national title game.
Critics contend it has unfairly given some schools preferential access to the title game and other premier bowls — along with the money that comes with it. Under the BCS, the champions of six conferences have automatic bids to play in top-tier bowl games; the other five conferences don't.
When Shurtleff took up the cause several years ago, Utah was a member of a conference without an automatic bid to a BCS bowl. The school has since joined the Pac-12, a BCS member.
Schools such as Utah and Boise State have lost out on millions of dollars over the years because the system has kept smaller conferences at a competitive and financial disadvantage, Shurtleff has said.
Shurtleff, a Republican who leaves office at the end of the year, said attorneys in his office plan to monitor the new playoff system.
"We're very suspicious that a selection committee picking four teams is still going to be an antitrust problem, but we don't know for sure," he told the Deseret News.