For many University of Georgia students, gameday is something to look forward to all week. When Saturday rolls around, students pack into Sanford Stadium and listen excitedly as a video featuring the voice of the late, great Larry Munson reminds them that “there is no tradition more worthy of envy” than Georgia football. September’s game against top-10 opponent Notre Dame was a chance for all students with tickets to cheer on their team in one of the most highly-anticipated games of the season.
At least, it should have been. Instead, several students say they were unfairly treated and even kicked out by university police. The UGA Athletics Association must better accommodate students.
It is important to keep things in perspective. The UGA Athletics Association is of course not trying to anger students. In addition, the Notre Dame game was an especially demanding game to prepare for. Considering the expectation for historically large crowds and the need to build 500 additional temporary seats, the Notre Dame game was always going to be stressful for university staff.
Still, the problems are part of a larger pattern of the UGA Athletic Association not meeting students’ wishes that has been years in the making. In 2015, the university reduced the size of the student section from 18,000 seats to 16,000 seats despite rising enrollment, perhaps due to a decline in student interest in football and ticket applications.
However, a quick return to the upper echelon of football powerhouses under coach Kirby Smart likely reversed the trend, making it much harder to get tickets, especially for the biggest games. In addition, some students have complained that the ticket application process is opaque. It was only a matter of time before UGA Athletic Association’s struggles with meeting demand were exposed, and the high-profile Notre Dame game served as the
catalyst. It is unacceptable for UGA to force its own students to leave Sanford Stadium because the university did not properly prepare.
Thankfully, it appears that UGA is taking the criticism to heart and will try to improve in the future. Josh Brooks, the deputy athletic director of operations, admitted that the UGA Athletic Association “failed” but stressed that the university cares deeply about students’ experience at games. Hopefully, they can make the necessary changes by the next big game. Otherwise, perhaps there are traditions more worthy of envy than gameday.