New basketball lottery features camp-out

Alessandro Roco

The results from last week’s basketball lottery survey left SGA President John Von Euw and Vice President Dave Pedra with a difficult decision.

Though there were 2,839 respondents to the survey, Von Euw reported a dead split between the option featuring a completely random lottery and the option featuring a camp-out for season tickets, with the rest to be distributed in a random lottery.

After a town hall meeting to discuss the options with students and after several committee meetings, SGA has decided on a lottery system that they feel will work for all students.

The new lottery will be a compromise between the two previously-proposed options. The new ticket distribution system will feature a camp-out. The number of attendees will be capped at 800, with 20-50 students given the opportunity to be alternates, should an attendee wish to leave the camp-out.

The camp-out will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17 at an undisclosed location. The camp-out option was implemented because 59 percent of respondents of the survey indicated that they would camp-out for tickets, even if only 200 were offered.

SGA plans to send out a mass e-mail to all students between 5:40 p.m. and 6 p.m., which will include the location and details of the event. The camp-out will conclude the next day between noon and 2 p.m.

Those who attend and stay for the duration of the camp-out will have two packages to select from, neither of which includes season tickets.

The rest of the season’s tickets will be distributed through a completely random lottery.

The only non-random game will be the final home game at the Pavilion against Rutgers, which is Senior Night. All seniors who wish to attend the game will be given that opportunity.

The first ticket package will include guaranteed tickets to the Georgetown, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Texas games at the Wachovia Center and the St. Joe’s game at the Pavilion.

The second option will also include guaranteed tickets to the four Wachovia Center games, but will offer the game against Notre Dame at the Pavilion instead of St. Joe’s.

SGA also recently increased the number of student tickets at the Wachovia Center from 2,500 to 2,800. With the new lottery, 2,000 seats would still be available for the four Wachovia Center games, while 1,100 of the 1,500 tickets would be available for the Notre Dame and St. Joe’s games.

“We felt the four Wachovia Center games were a good deal and that the St Joe’s and Notre Dame games were the biggest games in the Pavilion,” Von Euw said. “We feel this plan is a good compromise between the two options because it allows for the rabid fans to guarantee themselves tickets to certain games, but also allows those who aren’t to have a fair shot at going to games.”

The reason for downsizing the prize package for attending the camp-out, Pedra said, was to allow those who could not or did not want to attend the opportunity to still have a fair chance at obtaining tickets.

“We’re increasing the number of ticket packages, but decreasing the rewards gained in the hopes that it’ll be as fair as possible,” he said.

Von Euw and Pedra have been working out details for the camp-out, which would include outside vendors.

They also indicated that they plan to invite several student organizations to set up stands, and a big-screen projector will play previous basketball games and highlights.

SGA will give those who attend the camp-out large identification tags with two to three irreproducible marks to prevent forged tags.

SGA will also match a number on the tag with the person and will conduct regular roll calls to make sure those in attendance stay at the site.

To help explain the new complex lottery system, SGA will conduct three town hall meetings where students can voice opinions and ask questions.

They will take place on Monday, Nov. 6 at 8:30 p.m. in the Spit and on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 8:30 p.m. in the IK and at 9:30 p.m. in the Gallen Hall conference room.

The History

Many still wonder what happened over the past year that led to such drastic changes in the lottery system.

Due to outdated software and hardware, the previous weight-based lottery system was not feasible.

In several meetings from April to September, Von Euw and Pedra met with representatives from Christo Consulting, LLC.

Christopher Connelly and Christopher Schalleur, representatives from Christo and University alums, created the original lottery.

In late spring, they approached Von Euw, Pedra and former SGA Vice President Jeff Morris about problems with the weighted lottery system. Schalleur projected the cost to update the system at approximately $25-$50,000.

With the updates, Schalleur said, the new program would run more efficiently than the previous one.

Pedra said that SGA would consider the option of funding the updates by attempting to receive funds from the Office of Student Development, the Athletics Department and UNIT.

However, Schalleur said that in an e-mail sent to him by Tom Mogan, Director of Student Development, the University simply did not have the budget to front the costs.

Another option presented over the summer was to impose a $10-15 rate on each student who wanted to enter into the lottery. That plan was denied by SGA.

In early September, Christo devised a plan, whereby the company would still offer the free, weighted system.

The plan also included an optional Rewards program, in which interested students would pay $10 for several offered features.

The Rewards program included one guaranteed game voucher, and worked on a points-based system.

If Rewards students attended another sporting event or important event around campus and had their cards swiped, those students would accumulate points that could be redeemed for athletic merchandise or vouchers for more basketball games.

The system, according to Schalleur, did not affect the lottery because “it still offered an equal opportunity to everyone who participated in the lottery.”

“It worked very similarly to the Frequent Flyer programs you see on a lot of airlines,” Schalleur said. “We also felt that by encouraging students to attend other sporting events, our program would help create more spirit around Villanova. It would be a tool that would help people get a taste of several different things around campus.”

However, from SGA’s point of view, the program created an unfair system that relied too much on money.

“What they proposed came out as a class system that basically made everyone pay the $10,” Von Euw said. “How big of a fan you are shouldn’t be based on how much you’re willing to spend.”

Mogan shared the same sentiment.

“We also shouldn’t make students go to events they don’t necessarily want to just so they can get basketball tickets,” he said.

Von Euw also disliked the idea because he felt Christo’s focus was to gain profits.

“We felt the main goal of the company was just to make money, and we didn’t like that,” Von Euw said. “If they love Villanova like they say they do, then why this? All of the students already pay for these tickets through the athletics fee, and we don’t want to make students pay again.”

However, Schalleur felt Christo did all it could do to help out the University in creating a way to appease both sides.

“We tried as hard as we could to come up with something because, as alums, we do love Villanova,” Schalleur said. “But Christo is also a business and there has to be some financial gain on our part. But we’re not trying to make significant profits off our alma mater.”

Another reason this option could not have been exercised was because of a security issue.

UNIT, who ran the previous lottery, would have to give Christo the students’ information, including banner IDs, Von Euw said.

“It was a huge legal issue,” Pedra said. “UNIT couldn’t legally share that kind of information with an off-site company. Also, he gave us a week to make the decision, and such a big decision couldn’t be made that quickly.”

Since SGA and Christo were unable to devise a plan that would satisfy both parties, SGA found itself in a position where it was shopping around for ideas on how to conduct this year’s lottery in September.

However, with different options to consider, one thing was clear: the weighted lottery system was not an option for this year.

“With such a time constraint that was put on us and UNIT, it was impossible to create such a complex weight-based lottery system in such a short amount of time,” Pedra said. “We’ve tried several different things, but a weighted lottery is just not [logistically] possible.”

Though Christo and SGA have experienced their differences over the past several months, Schauller said that he is still eager to work with SGA.

“We’re playing a wait-and-see game,” Schalleur said. “But if they want to come back to us and discuss something in the future, I’d be more than willing to.”

Von Euw said that SGA’s major focus for the future is “keeping all options open and not closing any doors to anyone.”