The NCAA announced Thursday a moratorium of up to three years on the addition of any new bowls. That is more of a mathematical reality than reform because there are currently 35 bowls taking up 70 slots. NCAA research has shown there have been an average of 72 bowl-eligible teams since the 12-team regular-season was instituted in 2005.
NCAA president Mark Emmert also announced a Bowl Licensing Task Force to "examine the purpose, criteria, process and oversight of the NCAA licensing procedures for football bowl games. " Emmert didn't say specifically but the creation of the task force seems to be a reaction to the recent Fiesta Bowl scandal. The approximate 10-member task force, chaired by Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman, will report back to Emmert by October. It will be asked to look at "the way we currently license bowls," Emmert said.
The moratorium will be a maximum of three years or up until the time the task force completes its duties.
As of now, that licensing is more or less a rubber stamp. The NCAA bowl licensing subcommittee certifies bowls on a four-year basis but can review them year-to-year. The only bowls ever rejected by the NCAA are the old Silicon Valley Bowl and Seattle Bowl. Both of those had financial problems. The Fiesta is currently being scrutinized by a BCS task force as well as the licensing subcommittee. After a failed whitewash investigation, the bowl commissioned a special committee that found lavish spending by the bowl and possible criminal activity involving improper political contributions.
"Those are the kinds of things that none of us find acceptable and we all find completely contrary to the values of intercollegiate athletics," Emmert said. "We simply can't abide by those kinds of behaviors."
Emmert also said the NCAA is "... making sure that each of the bowl organizations have appropriate oversight and governance ... That they have established conflict of interest rules and policies."
PlayoffPac, a Washington, D.C. political action committee, reported that nine members of the licensing subcommittee accepted what it termed "a three-day golf trip" from the Fiesta Bowl in the past. The annual retreat formerly known as the "Fiesta Frolic" has changed its name to "Valley of the Sun Experience and Fiesta Seminars." Regular attendees of the event argue that legitimate business is conducted during the three days. PlayoffPac published a 2008 itinerary from the Frolic where the word "golf" is mentioned 15 times. Emmert did not speak specifically about a possible conflict of interest by subcommittee members.
Emmert said he brought up the subject of increased bowl scrutiny to the executive board in January.
"It became clear to me that a review of those criteria and those processes were overdue," he said.