The Daily Gamecock

Want football tickets? Maximize your chances

Loyalty points increase likelihood of winning

It’s almost fall here in Columbia, and as any SEC school student should know, that means one thing: frenzied anticipation to be in Williams-Brice Stadium for a football season with high expectations.
But first you have to get in.

Here at USC, TicketReturn is the online lottery system used to distribute tickets for football, basketball and baseball games to students. Tickets are free — well, you pay for them in your activity fees — but not always guaranteed, especially for freshmen. Failure to understand this system could leave you down and out during the big game.

Starting in 2008, TicketReturn became a way for students to request and receive tickets online rather than standing in long lines. Now, students simply log on to during the two-day request period before a game for a chance to score seats. Tickets are rewarded based on loyalty points, which inherently leave freshmen at a disadvantage.

Here’s the skinny on loyalty points. They’re awarded by a combination of game attendance and seniority. Each point makes you more likely to win a football ticket, like each lottery ticket you buy makes you more likely to win the jackpot. Every fall, freshmen receive three points, sophomores four, juniors and graduate students six and seniors eight. Returning students also retain 10 percent of their loyalty points from last year. Points are also accrued for attending football, basketball and baseball games. For football and basketball games, SEC games are worth one point while non-SEC games are worth two points. Baseball games all receive one point. There is also an opportunity to earn an extra point by arriving at least one hour early to football games.

However, for freshmen who haven’t had the opportunity to attend games and get points, the system may seem a little unfair. Thousands of students typically don’t receive tickets for big SEC football matchups, like Georgia and Florida. For smaller nonconference games, all freshmen usually receive entry. But if you’re a freshman who doubles as a diehard football fan, all is not lost.

“Even with three points, freshmen are still able to get tickets,” said Adrienne White, USC’s director of Student Ticketing. “We encourage them to attend basketball and baseball games as well so they can build up their loyalty points and increase their chances of getting football tickets for the following season.”

Freshmen now have the advantage of extra seating that has been recently added to Williams-Brice, with 1,000 more seats added in the upper deck and 144 additional bleacher seats in front of sections 24 and 25 in the lower deck. And make sure you check the TicketReturn system as soon as the claims period ends, as some students invariably forget to claim their tickets.

If you get a ticket to the game, make sure you show up. “No-shows,” or students who request and claim a football ticket but then don’t attend the game and don’t cancel their ticket, will be ineligible for tickets the remainder of the season. You must cancel your ticket by noon the day before gameday to avoid having one-half the number of loyalty points you would have earned subtracted from your stash.

You can still cancel after that point and accept the point penalty, but it’s better to cancel late and lose points than not to cancel and be refused tickets to future games. You can be a no-show four times for basketball games and two times for baseball, but just one slip-up in football and you’ll be watching the Gamecocks take the field from that tiny television in your dorm room. Alone. For the rest of the season. So, freshmen, go easy on the partying the night before a game and get your butt to the stadium on time.
Need more info? TicketReturn information sessions will take place during Welcome Week on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 16 and 17 in the Russell House Theater from 3 to 4 p.m.