By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
April 28, 2011: During the 2010-11 college football season, a bevy of bowl games signed new title sponsors, including the Progressive Insurance Bowl, the TicketCity Bowl, the BBVA Compass Bowl, the Discover Orange Bowl and the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Now, the NCAA has created a Division I Bowl Licensing Task Force to examine the "purpose, criteria, process and oversight of the NCAA licensing procedures for football bowl games." The NCAA currently oversees 35 post-season college football games.
The NCAA Division I board of directors also approved a three-year moratorium on new postseason football bowl game licenses "in order for the Task Force to do its work."
The creation of the Task Force follows on the heels of NCAA reviews into the operations of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ) and the Insight Bowl, both of which operate under the auspices of The Fiesta Bowl, a non-profit organization based in Scottsdale.
The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl came under fire earlier this year when an internal report disclosed a misuse of funds that included excessive executive committee perks and illegal reimbursements for political contributions. CEO John Junker was released from his role in March when the report went public.
The NCAA previously said that those reviews would come later this spring.
Some industry analysts also feel a catalyst for the move may have been the entry of Go Daddy into the college football title sponsorship landscape. The Web hosting and name registrar firm, known for its risqué advertising, signed a deal this past October to become title sponsor of the game that had been known since 2001 as the GMAC Bowl. At the time, GoDaddy.com vowed on its Web site, "College football will never be the same.
Last year was also the first season that ESPN had broadcast rights to the entire BCS series.
The NCAA said that its task force would examine such areas as governance and oversight by bowl sponsoring agencies, conflict-of-interest rules and policies, advertising and title-sponsorship standards and the oversight and reporting of financial management of bowl games.
"By stepping back and taking the time for a comprehensive review, I believe we will better ensure the integrity of the process."
The task force will be co-chaired by Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman, with another co-chair to be named.
“Let me be clear: This has nothing to do with post-season tournaments. This is only about making sure the NCAA’s role in licensing bowls is well done and consistent with the values we want to promote," NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. "By stepping back and taking the time for a comprehensive review, I believe we will better ensure the integrity of the process and provide the best experience for student-athletes and institutions."
The NCAA said that bowl licenses signed in 2010 would remain in effect "as long as the sponsors meet the current requirements." However, it stressed that existing bowls would be expected to "meet any new licensing standards adopted by the Board as a result of the Task Force work."
The Postseason Bowl Licensing Subcommittee, which is part of the NCAA Football Issues Committee, currently administers bowl licenses. The subcommittee has been meeting in New Orleans this week to review the licenses of existing bowls.
The NCAA said that the Task Force’s review is expected to "more clearly define the subcommittee’s role, structure and responsibilities." It would also create "clearer standards for bowl sponsoring agencies and for the public to better understand the role of the NCAA in its licensing of bowl games."
According to the NCAA, the current criteria that sponsoring agencies must meet to be licensed include:
• Generating bowl-based revenue equal to or greater than all of the contractual financial commitments from the two participating institutions and conferences.
• Averaging either actual attendance of at least 25,000 or 70% of stadium capacity over a rolling three-year period.
The Postseason Bowl Licensing Subcommittee also considers in its decisions such factors as conference commitments, value of the title sponsor, TV agreements and community involvement, per the NCAA.
Among the new title sponsorship deals signed in 2010:
• The Gator Bowl, played in Jacksonville, Fla., signed Progressive Insurance to a one-year deal with a three-year option. Konica Minolta was title sponsor from 2007-2010.
• TicketCity signed on to become the first title sponsor of a post-season college bowl game played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The game was created to replace the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, which moved to the new Cowboys Stadium in 2010 after being played in the Cotton Bowl since 1937.
• Financial firm BBVA Compass signed a multi-year deal to replace PapaJohns.com as title sponsor of the post-season college football game played in Birmingham, Ala.
• GoDaddy.com became title sponsor of the event formerly known as the GMAC Bowl, played in Mobile, Ala. GMAC had been title sponsor since 2001.
• Electronics company Vizio signed a deal to become presenting sponsor of the Rose Bowl, including the Vizio BCS national championship game in 2014, which is played in Pasadena, Calif. Citi had been the game's title sponsor since 2004 but chose not to renew after the 2010 game.
• Discover Financial Services signed a deal through the 2014 season to become title sponsor of the Orange Bowl, played at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. FedEx had been title sponsor for 21 years but opted out after the 2010 game.
Gator Bowl Gets Progress With New Title Sponsorship Deal