USC will consider dropping system
USC will reconsider its contract with TicketReturn following more widespread student ticketing problems Monday.
The five-year contract — currently valued at about $23,000 a year — expires in June 2012. The university may then move to Ticketmaster, the online provider currently used by the athletics department.
Officials have discussed Ticketmaster with the University of Florida and Penn State, two schools that currently use the service, said Anna Edwards, director of Student Services at USC.
"Students see TicketReturn as unreliable right now," Edwards said. "We've had two games when we've not been able to provide the support we've needed to provide."
Edwards said TicketReturn currently doesn't allow USC officials to make a clear visual differential between lower-deck tickets and upper-deck tickets. It also prevents USC from quickly deleting lost points from a student's account that were unjustly there. Several server issues have kept correct ticket data from uploading. And it's often difficult to reach officials from the service when problems occur, Edwards said.
"TicketReturn allowed us to do some things with student ticketing that we had not done before on this campus," Edwards said. "But this has presented us with a lot of challenges."
Edwards' comments came after 1,400 students who attended Saturday's game were sent an email Monday that said they didn't attend and were no longer eligible for student tickets. Officials attributed the problem to a defunct scanner at Gate 25.
By the end of Monday, USC officials had dealt with hundreds of angry students and reassessed loyalty points for all students who attended the game, according to Adrienne White, coordinator for student ticketing.
Officials also extended the claim period for the Kentucky game until Tuesday at midnight to ensure every student who temporarily lost eligibility could have an opportunity to request tickets, White said.
Around 40 students mobbed White's office around noon Monday appealing their no-show statuses and asking her to return their loyalty points.
That's as many as White said visited her all of last week to make appeals about the Vanderbilt game. So many showed up that they were eventually allowed to just drop off their tickets for appeals and leave.
"I got the email saying I was ineligible," said Cornelius Hair, a third-year political science student standing in line Monday. "I was at the game two hours before it started. It really makes no sense."
It didn't make sense either to Patrick Leonhardt, a second-year history student at the back of the line that looped around White's office. He also received the dreaded ineligibility email.
"I scanned my ticket, I have my mark, and I don't know exactly what happened," Leonhardt said.
In response to growing frustration with USC's current ticket distribution system and security problems at gates and in the student section, Edwards is planning to send out a survey tomorrow to poll students on the changes they'd like to see.
The survey will explore many issues, including whether students would be willing to pay for tickets and how important they consider sitting with their friends to be.
Jerry Brewer, associate vice president of Student Affairs, said fall 2012 would be the earliest possible changes could take place.
He did not rule out the possibility that USC could discard the lottery system, but said USC needed to collect data before making decisions.