Hamilton explains reasons for charging students for football tickets

In a continuing effort to offset a projected athletic budget shortfall of more than $3 million next year, the University of Tennessee will begin this season charging students for football tickets.

Students will pay $90 for a season ticket, or $15 per game if purchased on a game-by-game basis. Previously, students could obtain tickets for free with a valid student ID.

All full-time students pay a mandatory $250 program-and-services fee, which helps fund several facilities and programs, such as the University Center, Student Health Services and the Student Government Association. It will remain in effect.

The fee will continue to allow students free admission to all UT sporting events except football.

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said several options were discussed, including asking for an increase in the amount the university receives from student fees. Ultimately, though, the decision to charge students attending football games made the most sense, he said.

“The reason we didn’t (raise fees), frankly, is that a student fee affects every student on campus,” Hamilton said. “By actually charging for the football tickets, it’s a user-specific amount. Somebody can choose whether to purchase tickets or not. We hope that students will come and be a part of it and that they’ll buy all the tickets they have available to them.”

SGA President John Rader said students expressed outrage over the decision.

“We’re simply baffled that there can be that large of an increase in such a short amount of time,” he said. “It’s lunacy to me. It just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to make such a dramatic decision without consulting the people who are directly affected.”

Still, charging students for football tickets is a common practice in the Southeastern Conference. Of the 12 SEC schools, only South Carolina and Vanderbilt admit students for free.

Tennessee’s men’s athletic department receives no money from student fees, and $1 million from the student program-and-services fee goes to help fund the women’s athletic department.

According to UT figures, Auburn’s athletic department receives about $4.9 million in student fees. Florida gets about $2.5 million in student fees, and Georgia’s athletic association received $3.7 million in athletic fees last year. Those three schools have one athletic department for both men’s and women’s programs.

Charging students for football tickets is “a road we’re not paving, compared to our peers,” Hamilton said. “It’s a road we’re following. We’ve tried to avoid it as long as we can.”

The increased revenue, which also is to include a $19 jump in non-student season-ticket prices and a 30 percent reduction in discounts for faculty and staff, announced March 31, will go toward stemming a projected $3.15 million shortfall in the athletic department’s operating budget for 2009.

That includes costs such as tuition for student-athlete scholarships and travel for both men’s and women’s athletic teams. It will also help with non-operational costs, mainly projected pay raises for men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl, football coach Phillip Fulmer and their staffs.

The budget shortfall, however, does not include any money for capital projects such as the continuing renovation of Neyland Stadium, which are financed through earmarked donations and do not come from the operating budget.

Hamilton said that in the coming months, students will determine how to distribute their 13,500-ticket allotment, which will not change in 2008.

“As a student leader, I’m not against students paying a nominal fee to attend athletic events,” Rader said. “But this isn’t a reasonable request, in my opinion.”

Rader added that he expects fewer students to attend games this season as a result of the increase.

“I think you’re creating animosity among the group of fans,” Rader said, “and the largest supporters of our football team.”

Drew Edwards may be reached at 865-342-6274.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2008, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2008 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 234

VolFan32 writes:

As a student this is outrageous. In my 15 years of going to Vol football games I have never seen the student section as low as it was this past year. I can just imagine what it will be like next year. They will loose money on this in the long run I think. Bruce Pearl deserves a raise, but it sucks its going to hit the students

adamsck#591720 writes:

I love college athletics and the Vols, but stuff like this makes me think we have lost what little of our "way" we still had.

It's a shame it has come to this.

reg_mza#219136 writes:

Sad part about it is that they'll not lose a dime over it as that student will be replaced with an avid non-student UT Football fan that will pay whatever it takes to see a game. They know that and are sticking it to the students accordingly.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Students don't have pay enough tuition as it is? Going to UT and getting to go to football games for "free" was part of being a student at UT. Obviously, they still have that option at a discounted rate. Alot of students can barely even afford to go to UT much less come up with extra cash for football tickets.

Wasn't this part of the original student activity fee anyway? Make the grandfathered season ticket holders donate (there are more of them than they are students) what everybody else does and getting $90 bucks from every student isn't even an issue.

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

Most major football schools have charged something for student tickets for the past 20 years or more. I remember having to struggle to pay for college - a combination of loans, scholarship, and part-time jobs. Now I see students with cell phones, cars, spring break trips, video games, and drinking large quantitites of alcohol.

I would agree that students in financial need should receive discounted tickets. But most of the students can afford $15 - even if it cuts into their beer money.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

So, you save $15 bucks if you get season tickets as a student? We're talking about students who wait until the last minute on everything. Back in the late 90s I knew some guys that would wait too long to get tickets when they were free. I'd think alot of students would go on game to game basis, so the football team better be playing well or games vs. Northern Illinois, Wyoming, UK after Thanksgiving are going to be lightly attended. I realize Hamilton and the UT AD is probably thinking that they can take the unused ticket student ticket allotment and sell them at face value so all I can say is good luck with that. I've never been able to sell ULL, Wyoming, HC game, Vandy/UK for face value. Sometimes I can't even give them away.

I also love how they decided to do this without coming up with a ticket distribution or seating plan.

Silent_Fulmer writes:

Good Luck getting students to show up now. More than a $15 discount on season tickets would have been a better route to make students buy them.

Students wait till the last minute on stuff, Nobody will be going to the UNI or Wyoming games now. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Volunatic writes:

Everyone gets to pay for the club seat project going over budget. That stinks, Mike Hamiltons&Franklins.
However, I think that something should be done about too many student tickets being allocated for the "lower tier" games (UK, Vandy, & mid-major opponents). It's shameful when the emptiest part of Neyland Stadium is section D.

vols1986 writes:

Hey Hamilton - you stink, you think they are going to show up. If I was part of the student body government - I will boycott the game and leave that section empty...
let's see what Hamilton will do..

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Yeah, $10,000 in tuition for students nowadays is a free ride. I am quite sure that a student who can't afford season tickets (and there are alot of them) will be more likely to become a VASF donor in the future if they don't experience Neyland Stadium as a student, right Hamilton?

utclassof1992 writes:

This is a really bad idea motivated by greed. Stick to the people that you are trying to represent on the athletic field. And people wonder why negativity exists toward the current athletic leadership. I just cancelled my season ticket and my VASF donation. Hope more people follow suit. Until Mike Hamilton is gone, I will not spend another dime on UT athletics. Maybe I'll start watching my hometown Blue Raiders. At least they still know how to treat their students.

jlight#347852 writes:

I'll preface by saying I'm a senior now and will be attending grad school at UT this fall.

It's bad enough they raise tuition every year while financial aid disappears at the same rate. Part of that is UT's doing, and part of it is the fact the state of Tennessee couldn't give a damn about higher education. So to compare it to other SEC schools is bogus.

I don't know if I'll be attending many games next year or not, but I'll guarantee when the day comes that I have kids and they're ready to start college, they will not be attending this university or any in the state. I'm jaded to the brink at this point.

Ironcity writes:

Been gone a long time but this just doesn't seem right. If there is a shortfall in the budget after doubling attendence in basketball and raising ticket prices yet again in football, then something smells in K town.

bshone#598776 writes:

My prediction... The true student-Vols fans don't mind a $90 fee, but the new system better allow for students to sit with their other student-friends and they better make the seat section and row known before the student pays for the ticket (although I'd pay $15 for a ticket to any game in any seat in Neyland - but it's likely that I don't represent the average student fan).

After one season, Hamilton will do what he did with basketball tickets - he will say "only 5,000 students on average attending games last year, so we're going to take the remaining seats and sell them to the public". Can you blame him?

missrvrvol writes:

I personally have no problem with this. Many a Sat I have witnessed a few students selling there tix on the street to people who did not know they could not use them without an ID.

amyslins writes:

Well, I am replying as a graduate and a person that has worked directly with other SEC schools.

Other SEC schools have been doing this for many years. When I would mention that as a student, we got our tickets for free, they were all stunned. I personally knew this was coming and I am surprised I was able to graduate before this happened. I do not see the issue with this as $90 is not a big price. As other schools charge full price for students and will not even let freshmen into the games.

For those of you that are saying boycott and that you might not go to games next fall: go ahead and show your true colors. This will as well weed out those idiots that go to games just because it is something to do. I would rather have a student section of TRUE VOL FANS than a section of idiots who do not know the different between a field goal and a scored basket in basketball.

Get over yourself, this is life. Either you are a true fan or you are a fan just because something free was given to you.

bshone#598776 writes:

missrvrvol, Do you think the new system will stop that from happening?

jlight#347852 writes:

Missrvrvol, there are always a few bad apples in a group of thousands.

Personally, $90 is not cheap for a student. When you have to pay rent, internet/cable, & the electric bill, on top of food and other necessities, that's a lot of money because not everyone can take on a job & take work seriously. Then again, that's coming from personal experience, which sees me work on actual schoolwork an average of three to five hours per night. I'm not the norm obviously.

Hacksaw57 writes:

They pay twice that much for booze tailgating before even GOING to the game, much less what is spent
on after-game parties.
By the way- it used to be that “tail-gating” had a totally different meaning back when I went to school!

TommyJack writes:

Tuff beans. Less screaming F-bombs. Less puke piles. That's a bad thing?

bshone#598776 writes:


I agree with you more on this topic, but it really depends on how the logistics of distribution for the students. When changes were made for student tickets to basketball games, the SGA did a horrible job securing all of the orginal student seating at TBowl Arena. The students deserved to lose a number of seats (since their attendance was low, resulting in empty seats the year before), but they did NOT deserve to lose the seats in the better sections. Basically what happened was Hamilton said "students aren't using all of their seats so we're cutting back their allotment". Well that's fine, but he ended up cutting one of the best sections to watch the game (upper deck midcourt) and gave those tickets to the public. So true fans like me were negatively impacted by other students who didn't show up to the game.

If the student section does not fill up this season, Hamilton should allow the public to purchase the empty seats. HOWEVER, he should NOT take away the "good seats" from the students and give them to the public. That's taking it too far.

alfrizzle097 writes:

I won't be going anymore. I just don't have 15 bucks to spend on every game. I'm not in financial need, I just am not going to drop 100 dollars a year on attending the football games.

I love UT football and would love to be there, but they sure as hell better give the students seats that are actually in the lower deck this year.

bigbluevol writes:

I'll take any leftovers for $90/season.

bigbluevol writes:

TJ, you're right about that. I have sat in or near the student section twice in the last two years and the language and behavior left something to be desired.

BOASoldier writes:

jlight, come on now. when did cable tv become a necessity and doesn't the school have computer labs for internet use. Not saying they are nice to have and all but Necessities? and I agree with hacksaw... walk down the strip after a game and see the number of students getting tore up at the local clubs and bars. I will bet you they pay a lot more than $15 a weekend on alcohol. A good deal of them just call mom and dad up on monday and ask for a fund transfer into their account. If students can eat PB&J all week to go out partying on thursday night and saturday then they can save 15 dollars for home games.

jlight#347852 writes:

Yeah, and most of that language is from druken frat boys who will continue to come to the games and act the same way. If they can afford thousands in dues to a frat, they can afford $90 for football games. Rotten student behavior will never change because many college students are immature.

bshone#598776 writes:

The major kicker for me as a student will be where my seats are and whether it will be one seat for all seven games or if I will get a random draw for seats and get some good seats and some bad seats, depending on the game. Obviously, there are benefits to both options. Hopefully the SGA will come up with a fair distribution process.

VolJoe writes:

Great, My 5th year at UT and now I have to pay for tickets...
I guess it does not really matter, I have gone to every single game in my college career, and that wont change.
It basically amounts to a tuition hike for a lot of students, it has happened every year that I have been at UT.
I guess this signals the end for the Orange Nation (which I am not a member). I cant imagine people paying for Orange Nation when they have to pay for tickets now. If every student has to pay for tickets, it will really add credence to the old argument against the ON getting the best seats.

Silent_Fulmer writes:

Less Students - More Grandpa's to sit in the student section on there hands!!!!!!

chrslyp writes:

the tickets were never "free" we all paid for our tickets, they were included in our "activity fee" which was included in the tuition. i don't like it either, but $90.00 isn't that bad, most of the students blow that much on a good weekend of partying. i know i did.

imjustafan writes:

I can't believe that they have to make the students pay. Did they not just receive some $130 odd million dollars for the athletic department? Let the students in free! It's part of what helps making TN different. Less students means less fans which means even more of a poor "12th man". GO VOLS!

jlight#347852 writes:

BOA, I'll be a grad student. Therefore, I won't live on campus and can't use their network anymore. The Internet is a necessity these days too, especially for a serious college student who's not barely getting by with C's & D's. And while I don't watch television more than probably three-six hours per week, I'd say it is a good thing to have to stay informed about the world. Especially with local channels soon to be broadcast in digital, and me not having a television that would receive the signals without a box.

Also, the stereotyping of all college students as out of control drunks is ridiculous. The majority of people I know are nothing like that.

bshone#598776 writes:

chrslyp is right, before it was almost like income redistribution - the entire student body paid an activities fee that capitalized football ticket prices in it. now, UT has moved to more of a "benefits view" where you pay for what you get.

interestingly, in my time living in tennessee, it seems like the majority of tennesseans are for the "benefits view" through their tax system preferences (just look at the structure - there is no personal income tax, but we tax the heck out of consumption!).

my point is - isn't this what the average tennessean wants? a system where the person who benefits from the activity actually pays for it?

VOLS85 writes:

These mirror policies at SOME other sec institutions, however, there is now only one other school in the SEC that charges more than UT, and that's Auburn. Yes, Florida, LSU, and Georgia all charge less. South Carolina and Vandy do not charge...seeing as we're #1 in attendance and #2 in basketball attendance, I'm a little confused on this one. Could it go to pay for pearl's new contract? I don't know, but you're not encouraging us to contribute money in the future if we have to pay for the experience as students...I bet the VASF is not entirely happy about this, and neither is the SGA. Very odd that they didn't consult with the STUDENT GOVERNMENT before making this decision, and the president has stated that he is quite upset about such.

TommyJack writes:

PearlFUT: And you point is??

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Make the grandfathered season ticket holders pay their fair share to get their season tickets as well. Sure they are long time season ticket holders but students have been their getting "free" tickets for alot longer than the grandfathered season ticket holders have been.

bshone#598776 writes:

jlight, i'm a graduate student now and most of my friends are nothing like the stereotypes on here either. plus, it's not like the students who are annoying are going to stop going to the games because it costs money now - last time i checked, maturity levels and income aren't very correlated among college students...

jlight#347852 writes:

If anyone thinks this will actually result in our activities fee dropping, you're crazy.

amyslins writes:

seriously folks...get over your greedy selves. if any of you do not want to purchase, then don't. watch it on tv, radio, your computer, i do not care. i would rather have a student section filled with actual fans. and, as for limiting the 12th man....have you actually attended a game before??? because no matter how many people are in the student section, the stadium is going crazy

Orangeblood13 writes:

Most of these posts I see are laughable. 90 bucks isn't that much gimmie a break. But, if season ticket holders like myself, have to pay a ticket increase every year, I say THEY NEED TO PUT A BETTER PRODUCT ON THE FIELD. Basketball is winning, mena and women, makes sence. No matter how you spin it, we backed into a SEC champ game last year. Then the arrests and bs starts and they want the fans to fork money out? Come on, I will go no matter wwhat, for the love of the Orange, but if your gona raise prices every year, then how bout a top 100 recruit or a team with a little gumpshin? WE NEED A BETTER PRODUCT THAN THE PAST FEW YEARS.

bshone#598776 writes:

jlight, good point - the activities fee is going to be the same, but my point was that they could have increased that further instead of implementing the new system, resulting in a larger base of individuals paying for an activity that only those who attend can really benefit from.

whenson#307581 writes:

This is sad. Going to football games for free at UT was what made most students feel like a part of UT. You would spend the week studying and trudging through class, but you knew for 5-6 Saturdays, you would be immensed in orange and feel like a Vol. When you graduated, you wanted to keep that feeling and didn't mind paying for it because you wanted to give back, now how do you think those students will feel? If they feel taken advantage of as a student, they will be ready to get out of Knoxville and watch the games on TV when they graduate.

agentorange writes:

BS student tix were free. from 94-98, we paid a student activities fee that covered the tix.

so only the middle and upper class students can go to UT game? how are they supposed to afford beer, drugs and condoms plus football tix? how stupid will it look when our student section is half empty!? they are the only ones who do anything during the damn games too. the rest of the dinosaurs in the crowd sit on their hands.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Sorry, but some students who go to school on scholarship, on student loans, who's family are poor, etc. do not have the extra money to pay $90.00 for football tickets.

That was part of the experience that eveyone could partake in if you wanted to regardless of background. This just prices those students out.

adimatteo#261830 writes:

That is toobad, seems that many of us alumni, spend much money on donations, merchandise, etc, we pay alot, and dont question prices because its for the school.
Surely, whatever sum of money could be taken in from this,could be made up elsewhere. Many of us have no problem helping to support the school, in many ways, I do, and I have a daughter starting next fall, and would hope she would get to go to games for free, just as much out of principal.I could afford it, as she is out of state, but many kids have tight budgets, I was one years ago.

Tournaments, bowls, etc, are for us alimni,who can afford tickets, travel, etc., the one thing our students have is being able to at least attend home regular season games, that should not change...

agentorange writes:

anyone who thinks less COLLEGE STUDENTS at COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES played by COLLEGE STUDENTS is a good thing, is RETARDED. RE-EFFING-TARDED. I hear Hamilton is going to make players pay to get into games next. He reasons that since UT gives such a great opportunity for them to get to the NFL, and since we need the money, players should have to buy a ticket to play and will no longer be given scholarships at all.

TVolFan writes:

bigbluevol: I agree with you, I'll take a ticket for all 2008 season home games for $90...what a deal!!! If you bought a single ticket to all home games during the 2007 season, it was $320..again, what a deal!!!!

TommyJack writes:

Agent: 1. All "dinosaurs" don't sit on their hands. 2. So what if they do? 3. Are you the one that decides how fans should perform at games? 4. Unless they no longer teach discretionary spending in econ101, the students that want to see the game (as opposed to those that want to BE seen) will find a way.

rockyknox writes:

I guess our kids will have to take one less course in the fall semester. The savings on tuition will be used to pay for the football tickets. After all, why do you think our kids go to UT? :-(

VolCane7979 writes:


Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.