Sell-outs: Students take advantage of high demand for UK men’s basketball tickets



By Jordon Hall and Roy York

Students hoping to sell UK men’s basketball tickets to pad their bank accounts may soon find themselves facing criminal charges.

The problem of scalping student tickets has been a hot topic for many UK students this season. However, UK authorities were unaware of this issue until recently and are now vowing to take action against it.

At Monday’s ticket lottery for the remaining Southeastern Conference games to be played at Rupp Arena this season, UK Police Chief Joe Monroe warned potential scalpers that police are cracking down on the illegal act. Monroe said the scalpers could potentially face criminal charges and lose ticket-buying privileges for future UK sporting events.

“(By scalping) all you’re doing is hurting yourself and your chances for more lottery tickets in the future,” Monroe said in an announcement at the lottery. “If you go out there and scalp your ticket tonight, we’re coming after you and we are going to put criminal charges on you and take away your chance at tickets in the future.”

Monroe said the UK Police Department has always dealt with scalpers, but the scalping of student tickets had not really been brought to their attention until recently.

“The details of how we are going to go about this are not finalized yet, but we are planning to monitor the highly-used venues to help control this problem,” Monroe said in an interview with the Kernel.

Monroe said police will begin looking for potential scalpers on Web sites such as eBay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

Monroe said UK Police have not targeted scalpers in the past, but now that he is aware of the issue, he is looking to protect the victims of scalping and ticket fraud.

“This is being taken very serious by our team,” Monroe said. “Too many innocent people are being defrauded and it should never be like that over Kentucky basketball tickets.”

Many students have found scalping frustrating because of the sky-high prices.

Ethan Farley, an exercise science sophomore, said as a result of the ticket scalping he could not get his usual front row eRUPPtion Zone spot he waits hours in line to obtain.

“When students jack up the prices of their student tickets it forces the true blue fans, who deserve to be at the game, to spend anywhere from $50-$150 for a ticket that should be $5,” Farley said. “The so-called ‘fans’ selling their tickets should either go to the games or not go to the lotteries at all.”

Some students do not solely blame the scalpers, but also blame the lottery process. Education senior Thomas Cofer said he has been a devoted Kentucky fan his entire life and many of his scalping peers have become well aware of his love for the Cats.

“Going to the games is so important to me that I will pay about any price for a ticket,” Cofer said. “Those who have no interest in going realize I am a die-hard fan and will take advantage of that.”

UK students across the Internet have come up with creative ideas on how to avoid technically scalping their tickets while making a profit.

One seller on Craiglist found a way to try and circumvent the law by advertising his student tickets for the face value of $5 while taking bids on plastic knives. In order to get the ticket, the buyer must purchase the plastic knife for more than $70.

Others looking to capitalize on the Cats’ success were more straightforward. One Craigslist ad offered two student tickets to the Florida game in section 33 row B for $250 each. Another ad asked $920 for four lower level student tickets to the Tennessee game. Yet another asked $250 for two tickets to the Tennessee game in section 212, row M.

William Hoyt, director of the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration and economics professor, said the current ticket lottery procedure makes scalping inevitable.

“If we sold tickets on an individual game basis, we would expect to see prices much like we already are,” Hoyt said. “The price (would) reflect how much people value going to certain games.”

But if the price of tickets was set by value alone, Hoyt said the price would be so high that few students could afford tickets. Hoyt said UK teams value having student fans at games, which is why a certain number of tickets are reserved.

If scalping is to be eliminated, however, Hoyt said the lottery system must adhere to an allocation system based on price.

“Scalping occurs because we don’t have the prices set at market-clearing prices,” Hoyt said. “They’re not set by supply and demand.”