Basketball lottery undergoes major overhaul

Alessandro Roco

Since June, SGA President John Von Euw and Vice President Dave Pedra have been meeting with administrators to discuss possible solutions to the problems they face with the men’s basketball lottery system.

The problems arose when Von Euw, Pedra and former SGA vice president Jeff Morris met with the men’s basketball lottery independent contractor and a representative from the athletic department last spring.

They were told that if the lottery system is stressed as heavily as it was last season, “It could completely collapse and we would lose all the lottery weights and the lottery itself,” Von Euw said.

The problems with the lottery system were numerous. An outdated program that was scheduled to take 15 minutes was taking between three and four hours, and the program was run by one person on one computer.

A proposed solution was to take the lottery off-site to the independent contractor’s new company. The new system would have offered more special features, but there was one major catch: students would have to pay to enter the lottery.

“We said ‘No’ to the company and that option because students would be paying a fee for something that has always been free to them,” Von Euw said. “Also, their money would only go to the opportunity of winning tickets, not actually getting them.”

Another student request was the elimination of some of the regular seating, so that it could then be opened up to students. The problem is that much of the revenue generated by the athletic department comes from general seating ticket revenue.

Courtside seats are given to alumni contributing a $900 gift for each seat, plus $30 for the price of the ticket. Eliminating those seats in order to offer them to students would greatly affect the total revenue for the athletic department.

“We’d be losing close to $1,000 per seat per game,” Pedra said. “With the amount of home games we have, it wouldn’t be feasible to make those seats available to students.”

The dilemma has left Von Euw and Pedra with a difficult task: drawing up plans for such a large lottery system and doing so in a short time.Von Euw and Pedra have contacted various universities with similar student populations and similar seating capacities during basketball games to get ideas about what to do.

Since then, Von Euw and Pedra have drawn up several options. However, there are two specific options that are among the most prominent. Both are awaiting approval.

These options would be non-permanent, and Von Euw and Pedra believe that either of them would significantly alleviate any problems.

The first option is to offer a completely random lottery, in which students will no longer have weights. Every student would then have the same chance to attend a game, with no attention being paid to whether that student has entered or won past lotteries.

The second option would combine the random lottery system with a season ticket package offered to those who attend an overnight camp-out.

Both options would require UNIT to create the new, random-based lottery system.

“We really just don’t have the capabilities or resources right now to come up with a complex, weight-based lottery system, like years past,” Pedra said. “So our next best option is to have a completely random one.”

The camp-out would take place at an undisclosed location from an undisclosed Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon, with those in attendance receiving free season tickets.

The only game that would not be included in the package is the Senior Night game.

With the new lottery system, any senior who wants to attend Senior Night would be given the opportunity, something even coach Jay Wright has asked for in years past.

Based on responses to a survey to be released next Wednesday, the number of season tickets offered would range from 200 to 600.

The camp-out would only be open to enough students to fulfill the amount of season tickets offered, based on a first-come, first-serve basis.

SGA administrators would send a mass e-mail to all the students approximately 10 minutes before the start of the camp-out to notify students of when and where the camp-out would take place.

With a student-section seating capacity in the Pavilion of 1,500, this system would lessen the number of available lottery tickets to a range of 900 to 1,300.

It would also lessen the 2,500 student seating capacity at the Wachovia Center to a range of 1,900 to 2,300.

The camp-out and season ticket package will ensure that students with the most avid desire to attend basketball games will be rewarded with tickets, Von Euw and Pedra said.

“The camp-out can really be a great opportunity to come out as a community and support our athletics,” Von Euw said. “Our goal would be to make the camp-out an extension of Hoops Mania.”

The camp-out would feature several food vendors, a DJ and broadcasts of the famous 1985 championship game, as well as memorable games from the past several years.

Von Euw and Pedra received some negative feedback from a survey taken last week.

Many of those surveyed said that if people are given season tickets, they will be more inclined to sell those tickets or just not go to some games since their absence will have no effect on their eligibility for future games.

But both Mogan and Von Euw felt that this method would be the fairest way of conducting the lottery.

“The camp-out idea, I feel, is a good balance between rewarding those who are rabid fans of our basketball team and still keeping it random for those who maybe aren’t so much,” Mogan said.

“It would offer a ticket distribution that is fair to all students,” Von Euw said. “I also see merit in rewarding those who really want to be there. If they can’t make a game, I’d really hope that they would give their ticket to another Villanova student who could go to the game.”

Both Von Euw and Pedra also vowed to establish a more stringent policy against selling tickets online.

The policy would be strictly enforced, and anyone caught selling tickets online would have their lottery privileges revoked.

“We’re not trying to punish students, but we only want to see Villanova students in the student section,” Von Euw said.

In a survey of 2,817 students that was administered two weeks ago, 57 percent of students said that a change is necessary to the current method of distributing tickets.

An overwhelming 74 percent of students also said that students should not have to pay an annual fee to enter the lottery.

“It’s obvious from the survey results that students wanted to see changes with the lottery,” Mogan said. “And that’s what’s happening.”

To encourage even more student feedback, Von Euw and Pedra will be holding a town hall style meeting next Monday in the IK at 8:30 p.m.

They will then send out another survey to students next Wednesday so they can voice their opinions on the two options.