University of Georgia students stand in line to pick up their football tickets on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, outside of Stegeman Coliseum, in Athens, Georgia. Some students waited over an hour to retrieve their tickets. (Photo/Christina R. Matacotta, crmatacotta@gmail.com)

Football at the University of Georgia has been a cornerstone of student life since 1892, when the Red and Black Goats — the mascot at the time — played their first football game against Auburn University.

After 126 years of football, it isn’t a surprise that 20,200 students applied for season tickets this year, compared to 18,000 in 2017, according to Tim Cearley, associate athletic director for ticket operations.

What did come as a surprise, however, was the declining of credit cards and awarding of half-season packages to those who applied for full-season tickets.

An email was sent on Aug. 22, 10 days before the first home game of the 2018 season, to students who applied for season tickets but had their cards declined.

“Dear Student,” the email began, “When processing your credit/debit card for your ticket requests, your card was declined.”

Reasons for a declined card include inputting the incorrect card number or expiration date or having a lack of funds, according to the email.

Sadie Cornett, a junior political science major from Jasper, had her card declined, despite claiming she had funds in her account at the time of purchase.

“I saw a $47 charge from UGA for the tickets, yet I still received the ‘your card has been declined’ email,” Cornett said. “I called and they said I must have put the card information in wrong, but it’s all saved on my computer, so I never manually input anything … I also don’t think it would have shown up on my bank account if it was wrong.”

Although cards were declined, some banks and credit card companies held funds in a ‘pending’ status for an undisclosed amount of time, the email said.

Approximately 5,000 cards were declined, Cearley said.

“As has been the case in prior seasons, we do have a number of students whose payment for student season and/or away game tickets was declined,” Cearley said in an email. “We’ve had several calls from students/parents in reference to pending transactions on their accounts.”

Cearley said cards being declined is common each year. Full-season student packages cost $70, whereas split-season packages cost $40.

Cornett and thousands of others had to pay in cash at the Stegeman Coliseum ticket windows Aug. 28 and 29.

“I just hope something else isn’t going to mess up because this whole experience with UGA tickets hasn’t really convinced me that it’s very organized,” Cornett said.

"It's just frustrating that I have to jump through so many hoops."

- Rebecca Horn, sophomore health promotions major

 For those who were unable to pay at those times, ticket windows at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall are also open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. any weekday between Aug. 30 and Sept. 5.

Cornett had also applied for a full-season package but was only awarded a half-season package.

“I’m a transfer student and only have two years left at UGA, and I was really looking forward to going to all of the home games this year, which, sadly, won’t be happening now,” Cornett said.

Rebecca Horn, a sophomore health promotions major from Dunwoody, applied for full season. Her card was declined at first, but she was awarded a half-season package.

Horn said “it’s incredibly obnoxious” considering the amount of available seats in Sanford Stadium, “but I still can’t get a ticket to every home game.”

Sanford Stadium can hold around 93,000 people.

Horn said she had to buy a ticket from someone else for the first game since she wasn’t awarded a full-season package.

“I love game days as much as the next student,” Horn said. “[But] already I’m spending more money than I should have to.”

Cearley said student season ticket requests exceeded the seating capacity of 16,000 in the student section of Sanford Stadium, which forced the ticket office to employ a lottery system.

Overall credit-hour classification was taken into account to determine how packages were distributed.

“This serves as a positive solution that provides an opportunity for all eligible students who requested tickets to attend at least a few home football games rather than issuing to students in an ‘all or nothing’ format,” Cearley said in an email.

The lottery system in place for split-season packages hasn’t been used since 2015, Cearley said. The system in 2015 was similar but had minor differences.

“Multiple lotteries were performed rather than a single lottery for the collective group as in prior years,” Cearley said. Split-season packages were also used in 2010 and 2011.

The student sections include Sections 109-114, 138-143 and 307-313. Cearley said there are no plans to expand the student section.

As of May 24, the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors approved a student ticket football allocation proposal from the Student Government Association. In it, the lottery system is described in further detail, giving priority to undergraduate first-year students and spring and summer admits from the previous academic year for home football games.

Next on the priority list are students with 90 or more credit hours, not including credits in progress. If a student came in with zero credit hours and averaged 15 credit hours per semester, they would be starting senior year with 90 credit hours.

For away football games, students with 90 or more credit hours are first on the priority list.

Both Cornett and Horn said their cards being declined and their half-season packages won’t deter them from applying for tickets in the future, despite being a hassle.

“Obviously I want to go to the games, but it’s just frustrating that I have to jump through so many hoops just to get tickets when it should be simple for every single student who pays so much money to go to this school,” Horn said.

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