Staff Editorial: Students missing out on Madness tickets

Tickets to this year’s Illinois Basketball Madness event sold fast. The highly in-demand tickets for the Oct. 13 event vanished into the hands of excited fans at up to six tickets per person.

Ironically enough, most students should not expect to find themselves sitting in the bleachers cheering on their fellow Fighting Illini. None of the tickets sold were reserved for students.

There are lots of possible reasons for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics’ oversight. This is the first year the athletics department decided to issue tickets for Midnight Madness. Previously, students often camped outside and waited to be first in line and into the building.

Apparently the department simply ‘forgot’ to reserve some seating for students in the process of organizing the event. To question whether this was an intentional move in hopes to gain more revenue by bringing in attendees with more disposable income would be simply speculative, but at the same time it is difficult to fathom how the athletic department, which runs such a tight ship, could forget such an important detail.

The biggest problem in all this is that there will be fewer University students at Assembly Hall to cheer on their school teams. Granted, both the Men’s and Women’s basketball teams draw in a large fan base from the students on campus, alumni, members of the local community as well as the rest of the state.

Non-student fans should have as much a right to be at Midnight Madness. But it is unreasonable to allow each fan to take up to six tickets. Not only could this give incentive to some to take the tickets for the sole purpose of selling them off the night of the event, but also could leave out students from a building they pay to maintain.

But most importantly, the number of students at Midnight Madness and other athletic events represent the strength of support from the campus and provide raw, passionate energy to the players on the court. It would disingenuous to call Midnight Madness or any basketball game a collegiate athletic event when the students who attend the University aren’t in the seats.

The ticketing gaffe, intentional or not, sends a negative and hurtful message to the student body. Are students to understand that their unyielding love for Illini sports and the money they pay to fund Assembly Hall events are not worth receiving special consideration from the athletic department of the school they attend?

We certainly hope not.