System broken, needs major overhaul



Column by Natalie Voss

Dear UK Athletics, UK Ticket Office and anyone else who designed the student basketball lottery, it’s time to find a better system.

I’ve attended almost every student lottery for basketball tickets in the four years of my college career and I’ve never seen so many students desperate to attend games. Our team has never been this successful or this widely promoted.

UK alums have asked me what it’s like to be a student as our men’s team has hit 2,000 wins and is closing in on our last three non-tournament games with only one loss and a top-five ranking, and I’ve gotta say, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be — because my chances of getting tickets aren’t a lot better than theirs.

Nevermind that you would have fewer angry students if you increased the number of student tickets you were willing to sell, that’s a whole other debate, you have to change the way you sell them.

After you put the 8,000-person cap on the number of students allowed in the lottery, I assumed there would be madness, arguing and shoving as people came late and cut each other in line.

When I learned that stickers were being given out so massive crowds wouldn’t gather too far ahead of 8 p.m., I was relieved.

No standing around in the subfreezing temperatures. But then my group was informed by a UK employee and a security guard that despite having our stickers guaranteeing admission, we were strongly discouraged from leaving. So we stood outside, for two hours. It was 28 degrees.

When we finally got in, it turned out standing in that line hadn’t served any real purpose, except to deter from the point of the lottery system (to prevent people standing around outside for hours when they should be, oh I don’t know, studying).

After another 3 1/2 hours, I walked out with upper-level seats in the rafters and was glad to get them, because at the previous lottery I walked out with nothing.

This was all fine when Billy Gillispie was still coaching and about half the number of students attended the lotteries as do now. Almost everyone who made it in the building was guaranteed some form of ticket, and the lottery system existed primarily to make the division of seats fair, not to arbitrarily determine which half of attendees would get them.

This is my last semester at UK and my last chance to get into games. Counting the tickets I got last night, I will be attending seven of 16 games I should have been able to purchase student tickets for.

There goes any incentive I had to donate to UK Athletics after graduation.

Why not re-invent the system? Give preference to students based on seniority (based on number of semesters to registered anticipated graduation, or fourth/fifth years over third years, etc.).

That way, those of us who are soon to be in the business world have a lasting good impression of the athletics department. Or, divide the student body into two groups based on student number or last name and let each be eligible for a pre-determined half of season games.

Each lottery would be shorter, all 3,200 seats would be filled with students for every game, and a higher percentage of students would end up going to games.

The writing was on the wall at the second lottery when there were barely enough seats in Memorial Coliseum for all the students who showed up. The creation of a new system is now beyond overdue.