BCS discussing wide range of responses for troubled Fiesta Bowl
Removing the Fiesta Bowl from the BCS lineup remains one of many options
Nick Carparelli said the actions of a few shouldn't reflect poorly on volunteers
BCS executive director Bill Hancock is working on compressing the BCS schedule
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Bowl Championship Series commissioners remain "deeply troubled" by the scandal that has plagued the Fiesta Bowl this spring, though they are impressed by bowl chairman Duane Woods' reform-minded approach.
After praising Woods for "remarkable" transparency in revealing financial and political improprieties committed by fired Fiesta Bowl executive director John Junker, BCS executive director Bill Hancock added: "Don't misconstrue any change of position here. We are still deeply troubled by what happened."
Hancock said a portion of the BCS' annual meetings on Thursday involved spirited discussions about the Fiesta Bowl and the wide range of possible consequences for the scandal.
Removing the Phoenix-area game from the BCS lineup remains one of many options, he said, but there are numerous other possible punishments including probation. A decision is expected sometime in May, when a BCS task force Hancock formed to examine the Fiesta Bowl is expected to finish its work.
Meanwhile, Woods said a separate meeting with the NCAA panel responsible for licensing bowls went well. The meeting took place at a downtown New Orleans hotel only blocks from where BCS commissioners have been meeting this week.
"It went fine. Our message is the same: Here's how we got here, here's the steps we're taking to be transparent about how we got here. And here are the changes and the fixes we've made," Woods said.
In March, an internal investigation by a three-member panel made up of two Fiesta Bowl board members and a retired Arizona Supreme Court justice uncovered widespread lavish spending, including $33,188 for a Pebble Beach, Calif., birthday bash for John Junker, $13,000 for the wedding and honeymoon of an aide, and a $1,200 strip club tab.
In addition, the report detailed some $45,000 in reimbursements to employees for political donations, actions that Woods has said were a violation of state campaign finance laws. The report outlined junkets and free game tickets for several Arizona legislators.
Junker was fired when the report was made public on March 29.
Woods said he did not ask the NCAA Postseason Bowl Licensing Subcommittee to renew licenses of the Fiesta Bowl and Insight Bowl, which are run by the same organization.
"We basically said, 'Here's what we found. Here's all of it. Here's what we collectively think is the right fix and ... changes we've already made. And we want to hire right person going forward,"' Woods recalled.
Subcommittee chair Nick Carparelli said the panel was not as concerned with who the Fiesta Bowl's new executive director will be as the procedures adopted by the bowl to ensure there are not further abuses of power, as there were by Junker.
"It would make sense for them to hire somebody that is a known entity in some way and somebody that the football community would trust, but at the same time ... the committee feels the issue they had was a systemic issue," Carparelli said. "There was an executive director in place that everybody did trust, but clearly it was proven that too much authority was given to that one individual."
At the same time, Carparelli said he was sympathetic to Woods' assertion that the actions of a few corrupt high-ranking individuals should not necessarily reflect poorly on the thousands of volunteers who work hard to put on one of the most successful bowl games in the nation.
"This is big deal to the Phoenix area," he said. "There are a handful of individuals who made mistakes there, but there are thousands who dedicated hours and hours of time over the years to making this a great event."
Carparelli said the licensing panel intends to work in concert with the BCS task force so they can make a joint announcement about the Fiesta Bowl's status with both the NCAA and BCS in May.
Hancock has said the BCS has the legal right to get out of its contract with the Fiesta Bowl should it decide to do so. Woods was not certain that was correct, but did not want to dispute it.
Hancock said BCS commissioners are well aware of the criticism they could receive should they come down with only a light punishment for the Fiesta Bowl, but added that they would not be swayed by public perception.
Meanwhile, Hancock said an attempt to compress the BCS schedule will be a major topic for the next 4-year cycle of games after 2014, when the organization's current contracts are up.
Commissioners would like the title game to be closer to the holiday season, if possible, making travel easier for students, players' families and fans.
Doing so will create some complications, though, Hancock said, such as an overlap when four teams would need hotels and practice facilities.
Also, there's always the possibility of having to work around NFL schedules in New Orleans, Phoenix and Miami.
Hancock did not rule out the possibility of the BCS adding a fifth bowl game, rather than having one of the current four "double host" their traditional game as well as the title game each season. However, Hancock also said the current BCS bowls have made it clear they like having the opportunity to host both games.
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