Ticketing Troubles

Last week, social media outlets were buzzing with news about a new athletic fee that was to be implemented during the 2016-2017 school year. The fee of $225 is not mandatory for students, but rather an optional fee that would give them the opportunity to sit in the lower deck of Death Valley. Prior to the implementation of this fee, student access to the lower deck and the hill was on a first-come, first-serve basis. A petition started with the #CUWontPayIt gained attention from the student body and the Clemson Athletic Department. 

In response to the petition, the Athletics Department released a statement reiterating that the fee is not mandatory and that Clemson is currently the only school in the SEC, Big 12 or ACC that does not have an athletic fee for their students. 

Despite the reassurances from the department, the student body is still displeased with the idea of having to pay money in order to be given quality seats to enjoy football games. On Monday evening, the Clemson Undergraduate Student Government passed a bill stating that the student body does not want to have to pay for tickets, now or in the future. 

Athletics released a statement earlier this week that said, “While there is no finalized plan for student ticket changes, we look forward to continuing to work with our students and university administration to find a solution that works best for everyone involved.” 

Meetings with student leaders have occurred since the inception of the plan, and the two seem to be eager to work together to try and find a solution. On the topic of meetings with students, Athletics said, “These discussions have been productive and necessary, and input from student leaders has been critical in shaping our proposals.” 

The statement also addresses the progression of this proposal through the years. According to the release, conversations began in 2014 about having an athletics fee for Clemson students but the opposition was strong enough to put the discussions on hold for a time. The next year, the idea was revised as a “user fee” that offered season ticket sales, but students still pushed back by expressing a desire to keep a certain amount of seats available at no charge. 

The statement said, “This year’s dialogue focused around those items set forth as important to the students and moved away from a ticket cost.” 

Instead, Athletics wanted to focus on improving the current IPTAY Collegiate Club and the student ticketing system. Also, the plan keeps 3,000 seats free of charge while consolidating seating for students in the upper deck.

Clemson currently ranks No. 30 among SEC, ACC and Big 12 schools in revenue generated through student athletic fees and student ticket sales. Currently, they receive no earnings from students. The proposed plan would net them $2 million. 

However, Clemson Athletics receives a lot of their money through donations and IPTAY. These donations hit a record level in 2015, according to a report published by TigerNet. This funding is divided between athletic facilities, programs, scholarships, university donations, university support and the university band. IPTAY made $60.1 million in 2014-2015. Clemson also broke ground in November of 2015 on the $55 million football complex, funded entirely through the Athletic Department and IPTAY. It’s target opening date is February 2017.

Students, alumni and members of the Clemson community took to social media to express their displeasure with the proposed play using #CUWontPayIt. Jenn Barnett (@jennbarnnet7) tweeted, “Disappointed to see that @ClemsonAthletic are attempting to use students as yet another source of revenue. #CUWontPayIt.” 

Some, however, were more conflicted about the topic. Clemson student Rachel Eagleton tweeted, “Torn on #CUWontPayIt. As [a] sports comm [major] I get that athletics is a business … as a student I think it is poor timing for CU. #Spinda426.” 

The issue has yet to be fully resolved, as conversations between the Athletic Department and students continue. The Tiger will update information as it comes out.