With the student section filled to capacity but plenty of open seats available at Auburn Arena Wednesday night, many students were shocked to be turned away and asked to purchase full-price tickets for the Tigers' SEC opener against LSU. After frustration and outrage expressed on Twitter and other social media platforms, Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs announced a change in the policy on student basketball tickets.
Jacobs made the announcement via open letter to Auburn students.
On a game-by-game basis moving forward, we will admit all students free of charge until the arena is filled to capacity. We will no longer charge $5 to students for admission after the student section fills up.
According to some Auburn officials on Twitter, the previous policy was for the first 1,500 students to get in free, and any other students would be able to purchase discounted tickets. While some students on Twitter appeared to have knowledge of the policy, others seemed to be in the dark. Apparently, a lack of communication at the arena led some students to believe there would not be discounted tickets.
In addition to student reaction, Auburn head coach Tony Barbee addressed the issue.
To all the AU students who were turned away from the game last night I apologize! I am working with the Athletic Dept. 2 correct this issue!— Tony Barbee (@CoachTonyBarbee) January 10, 2013
Jacobs receives plenty of flack from Auburn fans, much of it deserved, but give him credit here. Auburn fans and students had a problem, and he listened.
In addition to the new game-by-game policy, Auburn will offer 500 students after the first 1,500 free standing-room tickets for the Jan. 19 game against Kentucky, which is expected to be a sell-out.
The full letter from Jacobs is as follows:
Dear Auburn students,
I am pleased to announce changes to our student admission policies for men's basketball games. I instructed our staff to make the changes this morning based on your input following last night's home opener against LSU.
Thank you for the feedback you provided through social media. It was instructive and helpful in our efforts to allow as many students as possible to support our basketball team.
We will continue to admit the first 1,500 students free of charge for all home games. We are now making an additional 500 free drink rail tickets available to students for the upcoming game against Kentucky, which we expect to be a sellout.
On a game-by-game basis moving forward, we will admit all students free of charge until the arena is filled to capacity. We will no longer charge $5 to students for admission after the student section fills up. This was a policy we put in place before the 2010 season as an incentive for students to show up early and support the team. Until last night, it worked well and did exactly what we intended it to do.
It is important to remember that prior to opening Auburn Arena, only the first 500 students were admitted free of charge at men's basketball games. After hiring Coach Barbee, we changed our policy to admit the first 1,500 students free of charge. That change was made to enhance the atmosphere at Auburn Arena and increase student attendance.
I hope this new change makes it clear that student support at basketball games is of the utmost importance to our team and to me personally. We designed Auburn Arena to put you as close to the floor as possible. A student-only entrance and student concessions were added to make your gameday experience as good as it can possibly be.
I want to thank the 2,000 students who helped create a great atmosphere for last night's win over LSU. As the games get bigger, I would encourage you to become a member of The Jungle, the official student section of Auburn basketball, so you can get into the arena 15 minutes prior to the gates opening. You can join The Jungle by visiting www.auburntigers.com/jungle/.
Thanks again for your support. Let's keep Auburn Arena rockin' the rest of the year. War Eagle!
Director of Athletics