Playoff advocates attack big bowls

Playoff advocates are on the warpath. They want to destroy the bowls in an effort to force a playoff on college football. The latest round of attack is on the tax-exempt status of the bowls.

AP: Playoff PAC, a political action committee that wants the bowls replaced with a championship playoff system, plans to file a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday against the operators of the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowls, three of the five games that constitute the Bowl Championship Series (the others are the Rose Bowl and the BCS title game). The Associated Press obtained a copy of the complaint prior to its filing.

A team of six lawyers and one accountant, working for no compensation, reviewed 2,300 pages of tax returns and public documents associated with all four bowls, said Playoff PAC co-founder Matthew Sanderson. The Pasadena, Calif.-based Rose Bowl was found to be “fairly free of these irregularities,” Sanderson said.

The bowls operate as 501(c)3 charities, meaning their operations are tax-exempt and donations they receive are tax-deductible. Such groups may not operate for the benefit of private interests.

Playoff PAC said it found the following in the bowls’ tax returns, which are publicly available:

_ Paul Hoolahan, CEO of the New Orleans-based Sugar Bowl, received a $645,000 salary in 2009, a nearly $200,000 increase from his 2007 salary.

_ John Junker, CEO of the Arizona-based Fiesta Bowl, received a salary of nearly $600,000 from the bowl and related organizations in the fiscal year ending in 2009, a hefty bump from his 2006 salary of $415,000. Also, Junker and the bowl’s then-vice president for marketing, Doug Blouin, both received $120,000 worth of zero-interest loans in the early 2000s, and Junker received an additional $4,500 loan whose interest level was not disclosed.

The AP independently confirmed the figures by reviewing the tax returns. (read more of the report below)