Filling the Erwin Center is just the ticket for UT
What can a season ticket holder for either men's or women's basketball do to help the team even when they aren't within miles of their seat in the Erwin Center on game night?
Mark Harrison, assistant athletics director for ticket operations, knows exactly what they can do.
Use "Ticket Return."
Beginning this year, season ticket holders who are not going to be able to attend a certain game or use all of their tickets for a particular game may turn back their tickets and receive Longhorn Foundation donation credit equal to the prorated value of each ticket that they return. This donation credit will be applied to the customer's cumulative donation total in their account.
"It's a pretty straight-forward program," said Harrison, who has been the director for ticket operations since 1998, having worked in the department since his days as a student at UT in 1988.
"Season ticket holders sign in to their Athletics ticket account through TexasBoxOffice.com," Harrison continued. "They click on 'My Account,' then select 'Return tickets for donation credit.'
"Then, the season ticket holder selects the tickets for the games they would like to return."
Those returned tickets are made available for sale to other Texas basketball patrons wanting to attend the games.
Harrison reminds those who have returned their tickets that they should make certain to destroy the hard copies of the ticket. Those returned tickets are automatically invalidated and the barcode on the tickets will not allow them to be used.
He explained a change in the scanning of the tickets enables this procedure to work.
"We began looking at doing something like this during the course of the 2004-05 season," Harrison said. "Our ability to scan the tickets, since each has a unique barcode, allows us to put in place something like this."
Harrison noted that the system makes it work.
"There is a unique facet to those who have the tickets and are giving them up and those who want to purchase the tickets," he said. "There is no way there can be two tickets for that particular seat with this system."
Harrison said the feedback he has received since this plan first was made known to season ticket holders has been positive.
"Allowing the tickets to be transferred like this, we believe is a service to our customers - both the ones who want to pass on the tickets and the ones who want to use the tickets," he added. "The people who have the tickets sometimes just can't get to certain games, but they don't want to give up their tickets. This donation back to the Longhorn Foundation helps them, as well as making the tickets available to ensure someone is in those seats."
And that helps the basketball teams.
Currently, there are 9,000 season ticket holders for the men and 4,000 for the women.
Women's coach Jody Conradt likes the plan, but acknowledges that unused tickets are not so much a concern for her team as un-purchased tickets are.
"I just want to get more people in the seats," she said.
Men's coach Rick Barnes, who had been quoted often on this topic, said of this new plan to make previously unused tickets available for purchase, "We have a chance to take what we have and make it better.
"Now, even if season-ticket holders can't make it to a game, they have the ability to participate even before the game starts. Not only are we trying to fill our seats, we're trying to create an atmosphere at our games that we've talked about in the past."