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University of Georgia Athletic Association prioritizes freshmen students and students admitted in the spring from the previous year, then students with more than 90 credit hours. (Photo/Christina R. Matacotta, crmatacotta@gmail.com)

The University of Georgia Athletic Association received 20,660 season ticket requests from eligible students this year, about 1,000 more than last year, according to the UGAAA.

But not everyone is feeling the football season buzz.

When ticket packages were announced on Aug. 22, some students were disappointed when they only received tickets to half of the home games. According to the UGAAA, once the number of requests exceeds the student seating capacity, the UGAAA must implement this kind of split package plan.

“If we had not implemented split packages this year, thousands of students would not have had the ability to purchase tickets to any home games,” the advisory said.

The UGAAA follows a matrix to determine how many split and full season packages they can award to eligible students. This year, the UGAAA distributed 12,340 full season and 8,317 split packages. Sanford Stadium’s student section contains 16,000 of the total 92,746 seats.

Ticket distributions follow a “tiered lottery” policy initiated by a committee of SGA and student athletic board representatives. The proposed policy was later approved by the UGAAA Board of Directors in May 2018, and contains a three-year moratorium on changing the policy to provide time to evaluate its effectiveness.

First priority is given to freshman students and spring admits from the previous year, according to the UGAAA. Next are students with 90+ overall hours. All undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours at the end of drop/add each semester to keep ticket priority.

In effect, priority is given to freshman students, then senior, junior, sophomore and finally graduate and professional students.

“I only got four tickets, even though I have 86 hours,” said junior finance major John Hatcher. “I don’t understand how I couldn’t get all of them.”

Some students question the lottery system and how the tiers are ranked.

“As a third year UGA student and avid UGA sports fan, I can’t help but think that I’ve been shorted on the so-called ticket lottery,” junior consumer economics major Robert Gallagher said. “I feel that it is unfair for students that have been going to football games for three consecutive years.”

Others students had more luck. Senior public relations major Zofia Powell received tickets for all of the home and away games except for two. Powell isn’t upset about the two games she did not receive, acknowledging “most students got way less.”

Students recognize that Georgia’s success in recent seasons could be making the ticket process more competitive.

“With Georgia football’s rise in prominence in the past few years, it’s understandable that demand for tickets is higher,” junior political science major Jonathan Hughes said. “I do recognize that split ticket packages are better than nothing.”

Though some students were expecting more, there are still ways to get tickets to more games.

“We have a process which places split package recipients at the front of the request queue for any game ticket which was not awarded initially,” the advisory said. “For example; if a student is awarded package No. 1 and would like to request tickets from the donation pool for a game ticket from package No. 2, they would be given priority in the queue for potential donated tickets.”

Students may opt into the donation pool, which started Aug. 27.

Similar to last year’s reports of payment issues, numerous students received an email telling them their card was declined. The email explained students would need to pay for their package at the Stegeman Coliseum Ticket Office over a two-day period. Along with the cost of each student’s ticket package, there was an additional $7 processing fee required to obtain your tickets when paying in cash.

According to the UGA Athletic Association, approximately 1,000 credit card payments were declined due to insufficient funds or incorrect credit card numbers being provided. Last year, approximately 5,000 cards were declined.

The 2019-2020 season is the second year in a row Hughes has encountered card decline error, and he’s yet to receive an explanation from the ticket office as to why the error keeps occurring.

“I figured last year was a fluke, but if there are as many students whose cards got declined this year as there were last year, this is a big problem,” Hughes said.

However, according to the UGAAA, no students lost their tickets due to the card decline error as long as they paid with cash in time. Not all were pleased with the UGAAA’s solution, though.

“The fact that we are only given Tuesday and Wednesday between 4-7 [p.m.] to line up in the heat and pay exact cash because our cards were declined for an unknown reason is ridiculous,” Hughes said. “We should just be able to go to the ticket office during business hours and buy our tickets instead of us all lining up at once.”

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