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Non-BCS conferences split record $24 million

WASHINGTON — The five college football conferences that don’t get automatic bids to the Bowl Championship Series will receive a record $24 million from this year’s bowl games, according to BCS figures obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

The distribution of money has been a main point of contention for congressional critics of the Bowl Championship Series system. Lawmakers have pushed legislation aimed at forcing the BCS to switch to a playoff system rather than the ratings system it uses to set the games that determine the college championship.

Despite the record amount that will go to the schools that don’t qualify automatically, it still represents a sum far less than that going to the half-dozen conferences that have guaranteed bids.

Of the $24 million, most will go to the two conferences that sent teams to BCS games this year: the Mountain West Conference, at $9.8 million, and the Western Athletic Conference, at $7.8 million. The three other conferences that don’t receive automatic bids will divide the remainder.

That compares to $22.2 million each to the Big Ten and Southeastern conferences, and $17.7 million each for the other four conferences that have automatic bids. Those first two received more because they each had two teams in BCS bowls.

Under the BCS system, six conferences get automatic bids to participate in top-tier bowl games while the other five don’t.