With the National Championship game quickly approaching, demand for tickets is on the rise, but not all students agree with the university’s lottery system of distribution.
“I’m not a fan of the student lottery system,” said Ryan Sedlar, a third-year in biology, in an email. “I understand that it gives everyone an equal opportunity and avoids technical difficulty, (but) I think the most dedicated fans would be willing to do anything in order to apply when a window opened.
“Even if some didn’t make it, the majority of the fans that quickly applied would be truly dedicated to the trip.”
The Ohio State football team is set to play Oregon for the national title Monday at 8:30 p.m. in Arlington, Texas. There were 1,000 student tickets to the National Championship that were available to students at no cost through a ticket lottery. Five hundred of these were provided and paid for by Taco Bell in cooperation with the College Football Playoff and the other 500 were paid for by the university.
Sedlar said he applied for both the Sugar Bowl — which OSU played in Jan. 1 in New Orleans against Alabama, winning, 42-35, to head to the championship — and National Championship student ticket lotteries, but did not receive tickets for either game.
Undergraduate Student Government President Celia Wright said although she was “delighted and shocked” by the university’s decision to subsidize the cost of 500 additional student tickets, she thinks the university should offer more tickets to students.
“I became disappointed with the priority not placed on getting students to the game,” she said. “It is unfortunate to me that we have the inability to allow more students to watch their own team play … (although) we have (tickets available through The Office of) Student Life tour (packages), and we have these free tickets, we still haven’t given, in my opinion, a decent proportion of the full ticket allotment for Ohio State to students.”
Wright, a fourth-year in public health, said the issue could have been remedied by the university offering more tickets to students at a price.
“If a student is able to go, but they didn’t get a ticket in the lottery, they can’t get it from the university, even if they are willing to pay, and I wish we had an option where students could pay,” she said. “I do think if someone is able to get themselves to Dallas…they are probably able to pay for a ticket or part of a ticket.”
Aaron Snider, a second-year in accounting, said he paid for his tickets to both the Sugar Bowl and the National Championship.
“I applied for both tickets, (but) I was not able to win any tickets through the lottery,” Snider said in an email. “As a loser of both lotteries, I wish there was a way to separate myself from other students during the selection period. I am going to the National Championship, and I went to the Sugar Bowl, but I paid a pretty penny.”
Snider said he bought his tickets through StubHub, a ticket sales website. His Sugar Bowl ticket cost $350 and his National Championship ticket cost $500.
The National Championship student ticket lottery was open Monday morning 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Only students who had season tickets to the regular season football games could be picked for the lottery, and lottery winners will be charged prior to the National Championship game — $200 per ticket.
But students who pick up their tickets on gameday from AT&T Stadium in Arlington will get their money back after the playoffs, said OSU Assistant Athletic Director of Ticketing and Premium Seating Brett Scarbrough.
“All winners in the lottery will be charged the $200 student rate, then as long as they claim their ticket on gameday in North Texas, they will receive a refund of their charge the week following the game,” Scarbrough said in a Tuesday email.
The up-front deposit and refund policy was added to the National Championship lottery procedure because of the number of student tickets that went unclaimed at the Sugar Bowl, Scarbrough said.
“The difference with the Sugar Bowl is that we did not charge for the ‘free’ Taco Bell tickets in the first lottery,” he said. “Everyone applied, the first 500 got a free ticket and the next 200 got charged for a $75 subsidized ticket.”
There were 700 tickets available to OSU students for the Sugar Bowl, Scarbrough said. Of these 700 tickets, 500 were provided to students at no cost by the College Football Playoff and Taco Bell, and 200 were offered to students by the Department of Athletics at $75 per ticket. Scarbrough said 144 of those tickets went unclaimed on gameday.
Scarbrough said he thinks the amount of unclaimed Sugar Bowl tickets occurred because applicants had “less urgency” to decline tickets they had no intention of using when they were not charged an up-front fee.
For students who win tickets in the lottery but are unable to attend the game, the Department of Athletics created an opt-out system in the distribution of both Sugar Bowl and National Championship tickets, Scarbrough said.
The opt-out system, which was revised to include the up-front deposit and refund policy, was described in an email from the OSU Athletic Ticket Office sent out to student season ticket holders on Sunday.
Students who won the primary lottery were notified on Monday night, the email said. They then had the option to decline their ticket so it could become available to other students in a secondary lottery.
Students had until noon on Tuesday to opt-out of the primary lottery. The secondary lottery, which only included returned student tickets, took place Tuesday afternoon and winners were notified Tuesday evening, the email said. Students who won tickets during the secondary lottery could also opt-out by 10 a.m. on Wednesday, but no subsequent lotteries will be conducted.
After the second round of the National Championship student ticket lottery, 25 tickets remain, Scarbrough said. Students who entered the lottery and were unsuccessful will have the chance to acquire these tickets at no cost on gameday.
The remaining 25 tickets will be released to students who were unable to obtain tickets through the lottery beginning at 3 p.m. CT on gameday, Scarbrough said. Tickets will be released on a first-come, first-served basis until the inventory is exhausted.
Students who decided to opt-out of the lottery or did not enter the lottery at all will not be eligible to receive one of these 25 tickets, Scarbrough said.
Wright said she approves of the opt-out system and thinks it will reduce the number of tickets that go unclaimed by students who might not be able to travel to watch the game.
“The option to opt-out, I think, has helped a lot of students to go who really want to, who do have the means to get there, but not forcing tickets to be wasted if students are unable to get there,” Wright said.
The National Championship game falls on the first day of Spring Semester, which means many students who plan on attending the game would miss at least the first day of classes. According to University Faculty Rules, students who miss classes during the first week could be disenrolled from those courses and their seat given to another student on the waitlist. In a Tuesday email to students, Wayne Carlson, OSU’s vice provost for undergraduate studies and dean of undergraduate education, said faculty members are not required to make attendance accommodations for the game.
Scarbrough said the National Championship ticket lottery system, including the opt-out program, was the same one used in the Sugar Bowl lottery, but the refund policy was added to encourage students to either attend the game or decline their tickets.
“Charging everyone the student rate for the (National) Championship game from the start was done to ensure that more applicants/winners are inclined to actually show up to claim their ticket and get their refund,” he said.
Despite the Department of Athletics’ attempts to solve the issue of unclaimed tickets, Sedlar said he still thinks the system has its flaws.
“Neither raising the price nor instituting an opt-out policy will be able to replace a die-hard fan with someone who applies casually,” he said.
Wright said she thinks the university would benefit from making more tickets available to die-hard and casual fans alike, as these kinds of experiences might encourage students to give back to OSU in the future as alumni.
“I think the concept of encouraging people to give back is something that inspires allotment toward alumni. But current students will soon be alumni themselves and we need to show current students that we value them through the portion of tickets that we are allocating to them,” she said.
“(In USG), we’re really excited about the (1,000 free tickets) and the opt-out system in the lottery. We just wish more students had the opportunity to get tickets, even if they had to pay for them.”