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Tulane president takes on BCS

Cowen asks 52 ‘have-nots’ for aid with change

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NEW ORLEANS — Tulane president Scott Cowen is looking for help dismantling the Bowl Championship Series.

Cowen wants the presidents of 52 universities excluded from the BCS to join his campaign to change or do away with the system that governs college football's postseason.

"We need systemwide changes in intercollegiate athletics," Cowen said in a statement released Friday. He called on other presidents to take action against the BCS's "adverse effect on Division I-A athletics."

Tulane's trustees voted unanimously Tuesday not to eliminate the football team but told the school it must reduce the amount of money the athletic department loses each year.

Tulane's football program has had mixed results since leaving the Southeastern Conference in 1966. The Green Wave are now a member of Conference USA.

Cowen said the school would also work to change some of the things he and the university's governing board perceive as problems. Foremost on that list was the BCS.

Cowen said the BCS hurts nonmembers, not only by excluding them from the big-money bowls, but by damaging their ability to build a fan base.

The BCS has done what it was founded to do, according to Wally Renfro, a senior adviser to NCAA president Myles Brand.

"The BCS was created to provide a structure that would allow Division I-A schools to determine a champion in football," Renfro said. "It has done that for institutions that are not interested in a playoff system."

Cowen contends the BCS, which was formed in 1998 in an effort to match the top two teams in a national championship game, is unfair because it allows certain Division I-A schools access to winning a national title.

Cowen pointed to Tulane's 11-0 team in 1998, which failed to qualify for any of the four BCS bowls. Tulane played in the Liberty Bowl and received millions of dollars less than BCS qualifiers collected in bowls.

"The BCS is six conferences that sat down and said, 'What can we do to make more money for our member institutions?' and they have done a pretty good job of it," Sun Belt Conference commissioner Wright Waters said. "I think the big question is why haven't the rest of us sat down and said 'What can we do to improve our lives by working together?"