The University of Rhode Island’s men’s basketball game against Providence College sold out of student wristbands for last Saturday’s game. Fifty of those sold-out student wristbands were offered to the University’s athletics department on a first-come, first-serve basis. The result: at least two student athletes sold tickets for more than face value.
It’s common for students to buy tickets for events and sell them to others to make a profit. Although this isn’t encouraged, it still happens. However, when student athletes take the same action, there can be consequences. According to the NCAA regulations, the 188.8.131.52 sale above face value nonpermissible procedure states that “a student-athlete may not purchase tickets for an athletics contest from the institution and then sell the tickets at a price greater than their face value.”
“I haven’t seen this happen before,” said Paul Kassabian, associate athletic director and the University’s NCAA compliance. “This is the first time.”
There were three means of receiving wristbands for the PC game: Rhody Ruckus, a student booster group where members automatically receive a wristband and their membership fee increased $10, 50 student athlete wristbands and regular student admission.
NCAA regulations state that it is legal to give student athletes early access to tickets. According to Thorr Bjorn, director of athletics, those tickets were handed out at random and not all athletes were able to obtain a wristband. They were able to be picked up on Friday on a first-come, first-serve basis for those athletes who had practice early in the morning on Saturday and were unable to stand in line like all other students. That morning, however, two student athletes posted to Facebook groups for the different graduating classes about selling their free tickets. One even was advertising to sell four wristbands when the student was only supposed to be allowed one.
“The intent is not for them to give it away,” Bjorn said.
Typically, the Ryan Center allows for a certain number of tickets to be sold to the public and students before allowing more students in. For example, here’s a case where the Ryan Center intends to sell 7,500 tickets with 1,500 of those being student tickets for the student section. If the student section sold out and the event only sold 3,000 tickets total between students and the general public, the Center will allow more students to come and sit in other sections not designated for students. It guarantees students free admission to all other basketball games.
“As long as there are tickets available, we don’t charge students,” Bjorn said. “We wouldn’t want to pull away the opportunity to pull away student tickets.”
The Cigar reached out to the student athletes who offered the wristbands to the public for a comment but there was no response.
Kassabian intends to inform student athletes of their rights. “This is not a permissible behavior if they violate NCAA rules,” he said. “There are ramifications. If there are allegations of wrongdoing, we will investigate if there’s evidence.”
The athletics department and the NCAA compliance are currently looking into the situation.