After large turnouts, athletics shakes up student ticket distribution

UK students will have a different way of getting basketball tickets this fall.

Previously, students have attended a lottery in Memorial Coliseum where they received a group number. If their group was called, they received tickets. If not, they did not.

According to the new ticket procedures, students will enter online to see if they get to attend the lottery at Memorial. If the student is selected, he or she will be notified by e-mail a few days before the actual lottery. They will be guaranteed tickets if they are selected for the lottery.

Student Government President Ryan Smith said the change for the lottery system came after lotteries last year.

“The whole idea of the ticket lottery arose last year when had six, seven and 8,000 people lined up outside,” Smith said. “There was kind of an outcry to us from some students about changing the lottery.”

Cathy Hurst, associate ticket manager, said last year’s lotteries saw much higher numbers than previous years.

“Last year, we ended up selling more (tickets) at the lotteries than we ever had showing up to begin with at the lotteries during (Billy Gillispie’s) era,” Hurst said.

Smith said several benchmark schools and Southeastern Conference schools used online lotteries, so it was something UK wanted to explore.

Joe Sharpe, associate athletics director and director of Ticket Operation, said a survey showed students were interested in an online ticket lottery.

Sharpe said a similar survey was conducted four or five years ago, but students were not  in favor of an online lottery.

Now students are more tech-savvy, Sharpe said, and they want to have the access online.

Sharpe said students also like the convenience of an online lottery.

“A lot of students want to have a chance to be in the lottery, but not waste their time coming down here on a Sunday night not knowing if they’re going to have a chance to get a ticket,” Sharpe said.

Now, students will be able to register for the lottery from anywhere and will be assured tickets if they are chosen from the online lottery, Sharpe said.

So many people turned out for the ticket lotteries last year that Memorial reached capacity, Sharpe said. The amount of people Memorial could hold limited the number of students who try for tickets, Sharpe said.

Hurst said the new system will help prevent that.

“We didn’t want to get to that point where we had to shut the doors and not allow people any access to the lotteries,” Hurst said.

Leftover tickets will be available the next day, Hurst said.

Sharpe said UK will post online Monday night if there are leftover tickets.

Smith said UK is looking at tying tickets more to students’ IDs.

The student ticket barcode will be scanned along with the student IDs, Sharpe said. So if a student loses a ticket, they can get a replacement.

UK also hopes this tracking will cut down on the amount of students scalping tickets, Sharpe said.

However, Smith said this system is not meant to prevent people from giving tickets to their friends.

“It’s not that we’re cracking down on people transferring tickets,” Smith said. “We’re just trying to mitigating any type of scalping.”

In the future, students who are more involved or those with more credit hours may be more likely to be chosen in the online lottery, Smith said.

“We’d like to make it as convenient for students as possible and reward the best fans and prevent people from scalping tickets and selling tickets,” Smith said.

For now, however, the online lottery remains random, Hurst said.

Students still will only be able to buy one ticket, Hurst said, and student IDs will be checked closely to make sure someone is not buying tickets with someone else’s ID, and only the student IDs of those who were selected by the online lottery will work.

The number of winners from the online lottery will depend on the amount of tickets available for each game, Hurst said, which is normally around 3,500 to 4,000 tickets.

Another change is where students will actually purchase tickets. In previous years, students paid with cash or check on the floor of Memorial. This year, students will go to the Athletics ticket office, Sharpe said.

Students will register for the online lottery on their ticket account on Every student has a ticket account.

If students have trouble with their accounts, Hurst said they can contact the ticket office for help.

Smith said student feedback so far has been positive.

“Everybody’s very supportive of the idea that they’ll know whether or not they’re going to get a ticket when they get selected, so they’re not going to waste their evening or skip a class or waste their time coming over here and waiting three hours to get a ticket,” Smith said.

“They’re also pretty supportive of the idea that if you lose your ticket, or something happens to it—which happens pretty often—then you’re able to come over and say ‘I lost it,’ and they’re able to verify that and you’re able to get another ticket.”