Though many freshmen express sadness over not winning the lottery for football, most agree that it is a fair system.
Not so for Tech’s men’s basketball team.
The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team has experienced a successful season last winter, especially at home, where the Hokies ended the season at 17-2 at home and 25-9 overall. Some of their most loyal fans, however, were not able to witness the Hokies’ victories in Cassell Coliseum.
Since last year, the SGA has made efforts to hear and deal with complaints about the way students get tickets to basketball games.
Brandon Carroll, 2009-10 SGA president; Eric Rucinski, an SGA representative to the athletics committee; and Abby Boggs, 2009-10 Hokies on Fire president, have been working to make the home basketball games more accessible.
Talking with students, collecting data, examining practices employed by other schools and running test programs through Hokies on Fire are just some of the ways the SGA is trying to come to a conclusion.
Athletics, however, hasn’t seen the need to change the current ticketing system because of the issue of fairness to all students. SGA has proposed Tech look to ACC peers for ideas.
Currently, Tech students can only get tickets via the online lottery, which is entirely random. Students can first enter a lottery for season tickets, which costs $78 if the students win the right to buy them. If they do not win those, they can then apply for a random lottery on a game-by-game basis.
Students go online during a two-day window to apply for certain games. They sign in using their PID and indicate which games they want to attend. If selected to win, students receive an e-mail telling them to pick up their ticket from the ticket window at Cassell Coliseum.
If not selected to win, students are entered into a second round lottery after the unclaimed number of tickets is determined. After the second round lottery, the remaining tickets are given away on a first-come, first-serve basis.
If students are not selected for the lottery and do not receive the third-round, first-come first-serve tickets, they are e-mailed stand-by passes that could admit them to empty seats in the student section once the game starts.
Students with stand-by passes wait outside until after tip-off. If there are empty seats in the student section, students are placed in those seats.
Assistant athletics director for ticketing services Sandy Smith said the current random lottery system is the most effective since it is the fairest way to distribute tickets to students.
“A lottery is the only way you can be fair to all students,” Smith said. “We’re giving out every ticket we can.”
Carroll favors some type of weighted lottery based on seniority or loyalty, as opposed to the current system.
“Seniors who are really big basketball fans have the same chance of getting season tickets,” he said. “A way to reward loyalty or seniority would be good.”
Rucinski said he is in favor of some type of hybrid system that would combine both seniority and loyalty factors.
“Seniors should get first dibs on leftover season tickets that didn’t get bought,” Rucinski said.
Boggs said it would be hard to differentiate loyalty and seniority, but admitted that the current system is frustrating to students.
“There’s nothing more frustrating than complaining and nothing being done,” she said.
Brent DiGiacomo, director of sports marketing and promotions for Tech athletics, said the SGA came up with the current lottery system years ago and that it was in place when he was a student at Tech in 2000.
However, he said, the student body has grown since then, and the Tech men’s basketball program has also become more nationally recognized.
Demand for student tickets has risen significantly as a result.
“It’s a great problem to have,” DiGiacomo said.
Smith said the SGA and the athletics department switched to the current random lottery system because the previous system was not working.
Students waited in line outside of the ticket offices for hours or often days on end, camping outside in a style similar to the notable “K-ville” tradition at Duke University.