Nonprofit Newswire | Group Wants IRS to Penalize College Football Championships

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September 22, 2010; Source: Associated Press | A political action committee is expected to file a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service this week claiming that the organizations that run three of the five national college football championship games are violating their nonprofit status by paying outsized salaries, making below market loans to employees, and failing to disclose all their lobbying activities.

According to the Associated Press, Playoff PAC is singling out the operators of the Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange Bowls—all which are 501(c)3 organizations—for breaching IRS regulations. Playoff PAC co-founder Matthew Sanderson said that a similar examination of the tax returns of the Rose Bowl, which runs the fourth of the five games that make up the Bowl Championship Series, found it was “fairly free of these irregularities.” (The fifth and final match-up is the BCS Title Game).

Sanderson said a volunteer team of six lawyers and one accountant reviewed tax returns and other public documents associated with all four bowls – some 2,300 pages in all. Among the group’s findings: The New Orleans-based Sugar Bowl paid Paul Hoolahan, CEO, $645,000 in 2009, nearly $200,000 more than his 2007 salary. John Junker, CEO of the Arizona-based Fiesta Bowl, followed closely behind, earning $600,000 in 2009, which represented a jump from his $415,000 salary in 2006.

Documents also show that Junker and Doug Blouin, the group’s then-vice president for marketing, each received loans at zero interest rates in the early 2000’s. According to the AP, Playoff PAC also found that the Fiesta Bowl, which paid $1.2 million in fees to a lobbying firm over the last five years “checked ‘no’ on whether it engaged in lobbying activities or attempted to influence legislation.” In separate statements, the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls all disputed allegations of wrongdoing.—Bruce Trachtenberg