Gator Bowl 1 of 3 Bowls the IRS Plans to Audit

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIMarch 12, 2014

USA Today

While college football teams are working on making improvements for the 2014 season, three bowl games are dealing with issues of their own.

CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler reported Wednesday that three bowls—the Alamo, Gator and Fight Hunger—have received notice from the Internal Revenue Service of audits over recent tax returns.

While an audit certainly isn't a positive, it doesn't necessarily mean that any of these bowls will be in any trouble. Audits can be routine, but with the recent Fiesta Bowl scandal still fresh in the minds of many, the situation could be a legitimate cause for concern.

As with any other organization, bowls often draw IRS interest after revenue spikes and rising payments for executives.

Fowler broke down the situation facing the Gator Bowl, which recently and ironically extended its name sponsorship with

In January, the Gator Bowl Association provided documentation to an IRS examiner for a “random audit” of the Jacksonville bowl's Form 990 for 2011, spokesman Cheri O'Neill confirmed. The bowl anticipates getting a response from the IRS sometime this month.

The Gator Bowl also did well in its audited year, earning $9,337,137 in total revenue according to its 2011 fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, compared to $8,304,131 the prior year.

Florida and Ohio State played in the January 2012 Gator Bowl, a dream matchup for a bowl in the middle tier of SEC and Big Ten postseason matchups. Executive director Richard Catlett made $336,373 during that span, according to the 990.

Per Fowler's report, San Francisco Bowl Game Association executive director Gary Cavalli said his Fight Hunger Bowl received a "clean bill of health" in January. The IRS inspected income spikes for the bowl in the 2010-11 fiscal year, but since no red flags were raised, the organization will keep its nonprofit status.

Fowler reported that, according to the bowl's 990 forms, it reported an increase in revenue of nearly $300,000 when the Colin Kaepernick-led Nevada Wolf Pack took on Luke Kuechly and Boston College at the end of the 2010-11 season. It was also the first time the game was played in January, the night before the national title game, rather than in December.

While the audits coupled with the recent Fiesta Bowl scandal are a bad look for all bowls, Cavalli insists that the organizations aren't what they are perceived to be:

The Fiesta Bowl experience really changed a lot of things in the bowl industry. There were a lot of charges levied against bowls and bowl directors that were almost all false, but there was a little bit of truth to some of them, and the Fiesta gave credibility to some of those charges.

Thirty-four of 35 bowls were doing things right.

The NCAA also randomly audits five bowls each season, and according to Fowler, no significant issues have come up as of yet during this year's audits.