Over the course of the last several months, the Fiesta Bowl has been bombarded with allegations of unethical behavior and improprieties. The outcry began when it was reported that the Fiesta Bowl reimbursed employees for campaign contributions, which is clearly a violation of federal and state law. Then, a Fiesta Bowl report noted that the Fiesta Bowl reimbursed $45,000.00 to employees for political donations, spent $33,000.00 on a Pebble Beach, California birthday party for former Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker, spent $13,000.00 for the wedding and honeymoon of a Fiesta Bowl employee, and paid a $1,200.00 strip club tab for Fiesta Bowl employees. As a result of this behavior, the Fiesta Bowl terminated CEO John Junker.
The BCS created the BCS presidential oversight committee (“Task Force”) to address the Fiesta Bowl. The Task Force took action and fined the Fiesta Bowl $1,000,000.00. In addition, the Task Force stated “the bowl’s executive staff frequently acted with scant regard for ethics and proper conduct. Further, it is the opinion of the task force that the bowl’s board of directors over the years was negligent in its oversight responsibilities.” As a result, the Task Force required, among other things, that the Fiesta remove board members who were found to have engaged in inappropriate conduct, include two members of the college community on the board, conduct annual internal audits and share them with the BCS executive director, replace its auditing firm, and consult with the BCS before hiring a new executive director.
Some believe the Fiesta Bowl resolved this matter favorably. Matthew Sanderson, founder of the Playoff PAC, stated “[t]hey fired John Junker and paid a million-dollar fine—I’d say the Fiesta Bowl probably came out ahead.” Additionally, Mr. Sanderson believes the BCS “rush[ed] to judgment” and should require all of the bowls to undergo similar scrutiny. The BCS has declined to scrutinize all of the bowls, because no evidence of improprieties exists in other bowls per BCS executive director, Bill Hancock.
Although the Fiesta Bowl is staying alive, the Arizona Senate Ethics Committee (“Committee”) has indicated some lawmakers may have violated state law by improperly accepting free football tickets to the Fiesta Bowl and other perks from the Fiesta Bowl. However, the Committee is refraining from taking further action because it does not want to taint the criminal investigation being conducted by the Maricopa County prosecutors. This saga is not over just yet.