Sunday, January 11, 2009
Utah AG: Duty is to protect university
SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's attorney general is using his personal blog to answer criticism that he's wasting state resources by investigating whether the Bowl Championship Series violates federal antitrust laws.
Mark Shurtleff contends the BCS unfairly puts Utah, and schools in other conferences like the Mountain West that don't get an automatic bid to a BCS bowl, at a competitive and financial disadvantage. For the second time in five years, Utah finished the season undefeated and was shut out of playing in the BCS national title game, which was won by Florida.
Utah finished the season ranked No. 2 in The Associated Press poll after upsetting Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl.
Shurtleff's staff plans to review the Sherman Antitrust Act to see if a lawsuit can be filed. To succeed, Shurtleff, a Republican, would have to prove a conspiracy exists that creates a monopoly.
He has received widespread support -- and criticism -- for involving himself in a dispute over how college football's national champion is crowned. Like other politicians who have chimed in on the issue, he wants the national champion decided through a playoff system.
On Saturday, The Salt Lake Tribune -- Utah's largest newspaper -- criticized Shurtleff in an editorial for wasting taxpayer money.
"Our economy is imploding. Utahns are losing their jobs and homes. Budget cuts will be required. And our state's top lawyer is preoccupied with scoring a political touchdown with Utah football fans," the Tribune wrote.
Saturday evening, Shurtleff used his blog to respond to his critics by noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled antitrust laws apply to NCAA athletics and that it is his duty to enforce state and federal laws.
"The University of Utah and some other NCAA Division I-A schools in Utah are taxpayer funded institutions and I have a duty to protect and defend them against violations of the law," he wrote.