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Utah's Attorney General considers move

If the leaders of the Bowl Championship Series don't come to a
resolution with the system's critics at a meeting Sunday, Utah's
attorney general might call for an antitrust investigation.

Mark Shurtleff sent a letter Thursday to New York's attorney
general, Elliott Spitzer, the chairman of the Antitrust Committee
of the National Association of Attorneys General, criticizing the
postseason system in major college football.

Leaders from the six conferences that started the BCS in 1998
will meet Sunday in New Orleans with representatives of the five
Division I-A conferences that are trying to improve their access to
the nation's most lucrative bowl games.

"I am glad to see that both the presidents of the BCS and
non-BCS schools are committed to resolving this situation fairly. I
look forward to the outcome of the presidents' meeting," Shurtleff
wrote in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press.

"If a resolution does not emerge from that meeting, I will
consider formally requesting that the Antitrust Committee ... open
an investigation to examine whether or not competition is
restrained and consumers are harmed under the current BCS
arrangement."

Details of the letter were first reported Saturday by The New
York Times.

Members of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee were not
immediately available for comment, but in the past have said that
the system does not violate antitrust laws because it is open to
all Division I-A school through two at-large berths.

Shurtleff represents a state that is home to three schools --
BYU, Utah and Utah State -- that are on the outside of the BCS. Utah
Sen. Orrin Hatch, a BYU graduate, was outspoken in his criticism of
the system at a Senate hearing last month.

Questions about access to the BCS have been a big issue in
college football since the summer, when Tulane president Scott
Cowen started the Coalition for Athletics Reform in an effort to
change the system.

The two sides met in September in Chicago and are expected to
exchange ideas Sunday. The current BCS contract expires after the
2006 bowls and negotiations will begin next year on a new system.

Created in 1998 by the six most powerful conferences, the BCS
guarantees the champions of those leagues -- the Big East, ACC, SEC,
Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-10 -- will play in one of the four most
lucrative postseason bowl games, leaving only two at-large berths.

One of those bowls pits the top two teams in the BCS standings
in a championship game, which will be the Sugar Bowl this season.
The Orange, Fiesta and Rose bowls host the other games.

Smaller schools complain that the BCS makes it impossible for
them to win the national championship and puts them at a financial
and recruiting disadvantage.

The BCS bowls generate more than $110 million a year for the big
conferences. The BCS gives about $6 million a year to smaller
conferences.

However, in the 20 years before the BCS started, only one school
other than independent Notre Dame that's not currently in the six
conferences played in one of those four bowls.