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Thursday, January 6, 2011
Anti-BCS group files IRS complaint over cruise

Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A political action committee out to change college football's postseason system has filed a complaint with the IRS about a cruise hosted by Orange Bowl organizers for athletic directors and conference commissioners, along with their spouses.

The Playoff PAC reported the "Orange Bowl Summer Splash" to the IRS, complaining that the "all-inclusive, three-night, four-day complimentary getaway" to the Bahamas was a junket and could be impermissible under the bowl's tax-exempt status as a charity.

Orange Bowl executive director Eric Poms told The Associated Press that the bowl committee has consulted with its legal counsel believes it is "100 percent in compliance with IRS guidleines."

"The Summer Splash event was a business trip and a lot of business was conducted during the time frame of the event," he said. "We had an opportunity for the Orange Bowl committee to advocate the great destination that south Florida is."

An IRS spokesman declined to comment.

Documents obtained by Playoff PAC through public records requests and released last week include a spot on the trip agenda for an off day anchored near a private island and another at Atlantis Paradise Island Resort.

What the PAC calls "other Orange Bowl documents" include an announcement that "a limited number of appointments have been blocked at the spa for you or your spouse/guest for either a manicure or pedicure. The Orange Bowl will provide one service."

The trip was from last June 11-14.

"Not only is this cruise problematic under federal tax laws, schools are getting fleeced to pay for these frivolous perks," Playoff PAC co-founder Matthew Sanderson said in a news release. "The Orange Bowl forces participating schools to pay above-market rates for game tickets."

There were roughly 10,000 empty seats at Sun Life Stadium on Monday as Stanford beat Virginia Tech 40-12.

Poms said the Playoff PAC's complaint is filled with "half-truths, inaccuracies and items that are taken our of context."

BCS executive director Bill Hancock, in Arizona for the BCS title game next week between Auburn and Oregon, said Thursday that all the bowls have procedures to ensure they are in compliance with the IRS.

The BCS system has been under increasing pressure from critics who see it as an unfair system for crowning a national champion in college football, one that makes it tough for non-power conference teams to get in the title game while creating a financial windfall for bowl organizers.