Exhausting supply is exhausting.

Kudos to the AJ-C’s Bill King for asking Matt Borman, executive associate athletic director for development and executive director of the Georgia Bulldog Club, and Tim Cearly, assistant athletic director for ticket operations, what’s up with the school’s ticket distribution to the Notre Dame game.  It’s a question that’s been asked here in the comments and also in several emails I received over the past few months.

Start with the basics.

First, some background: UGA is receiving 8,000 tickets to the upcoming game in South Bend. Of those, 5,300 were put on sale “to the donor base,” while the remainder go to students, faculty, staff, sponsors and family.

All of the tickets, which are priced at $170 each, have been sold, Cearly said. When there were a few hundred tickets left after the initial availability to those with a 75,000 cumulative score, the offer was widened to those with at least 67,000 points, “and that will exhaust the supply.” All those who were offered the chance were able to get tickets.

The sticking point for many, including the person who wrote King in the first place, was the way those 5,300 tickets were offered to that portion of fan base.

“What I was surprised, and frankly a little perturbed by, was that they were allowed to buy up to six tickets if they contributed 10,000 or more, four tickets if they contributed 3,000-9,999 and two tickets if they contributed 100-2,999 in 2017…”

To which, the official response is,

Cearly said that, in drafting the ticket sale, “We tried to establish benchmarks based on prior history and demand for previous games.” The offer was patterned after the one for tickets to last year’s Ole Miss road game, except ticket buyers were limited to six tickets this time instead of eight for that game, to allow for somewhat wider distribution.

“The challenge is, you want to give fans a chance [at the tickets] but you also want to reward those who give at a certain level and incentivize donations,” he said.

Ah, incentivize.  Because those folks need every edge imaginable to keep the money spigot open.

The use of tickets for a big game like this to “incentivize” donations, rather than making them available to a wider group of fans, is “a sensitive topic,” Borman said, but “we’ve just got to find a way to take care of those individuals who are giving at the highest level to the Bulldog Club. We have a ton of great supporters who unfortunately can’t get tickets. But there’s got to be a line drawn somewhere.”

Could have drawn that line by limiting everyone to a maximum of two tickets to spread the wealth around that “ton of great supporters” to whom you give lip service, Matt, but we know where your priorities lie.

One other passing note from Mr. Borman…

The Bulldog Club/Hartman Fund, he noted, raises about $32 million a year to help pay the university back for student athletes’ scholarships and to fund day-to-day operation of the athletic department.

Your contribution dollars hard at work.  As far as that “pay back” goes, allow me to let Andy Schwarz retort.

The same is true for the scholarships. We cannot learn much about the cost of providing a college education to an athlete from the listed price of a GIA or from the net spread between “direct institutional support” and that listed price. The difference tells us how much money the athletic department is paying the school for the scholarships, but not what the scholarships cost the school to provide.

What they cost depends a lot on the school. At schools with capped enrollment—where the dorm rooms are full, where profit margins on food and books are low, where little or no institutional financial aid is given to non-athletes—the list cost might well be close to correct. At schools with a desire to grow enrollment—where there’s still dorm space and where profit margins on food and books are healthy—the actual cost might be pennies (or at least dimes) on the dollar of listed cost…

… The numbers reported are the gross price the university charges the athletic department, not the cost. When you net out “direct institutional support” those numbers become the net price the university charges (and if that “support” is high enough, the net price might be negative).

… athletic departments are trying to walk a rhetorical tightrope. They want to hide their profits to make it easier to keep them away from other would-be claimants. They also want to avoid looking so poor that other stakeholders within academia use sports’ apparent poverty to strip them of power. Rhetoric that turns a price into a cost, and a transfer of profit into a loss of money, helps play a role in confusing things enough that the moment in the magic trick where the profit is moved from one pocket to the other gets obscured.

This sleight of hand confuses the media, who then (unknowingly) magnify and perpetuate the deception. Articles that use the label “scholarship cost” for what the schools call “athletic student aid” on their financial reporting documents are confusing price and cost, and those that don’t net out direct institutional expense are reporting a fake price at that. Schools and athletic departments have no real incentive to correct the record, and so the public is left with the perception that somehow these wildly profitable enterprises are just scraping by—all the easier to claim poverty when the workforce comes around looking for a more competitive cut.

Or when they need to parcel out scarce tickets to a premium event while trying to tiptoe around alienating a chunk of the paying fan base, evidently.

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39 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

39 responses to “Exhausting supply is exhausting.

  1. Silver Britches

    Agreed, but I’d like to quote my wife (ever the oracle), who, when confronted with the scarcity/price of tickets shrugged and said, “What are we gonna do, not go?”

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  2. The price vs cost issue is so real in higher education broadly. People are always talking about “costs” but there’s almost no way to measure it. There’s certainly a price, but costs? good luck!

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  3. Reipar

    I really see no problem with the ticket distribution plan. You donate that kind of money and you should get preferential treatment.

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    • Jack Klompus

      I couldn’t agree more. The problem I see is the language used- “reward those who give at a certain level and incentivize donations” I’m sorry, but anyone with any aptitude in PR would know that you’d leave that last part out unless, that is an underlying principal of your department.

      If a client of mine asked me why I didn’t take him to the Super Bowl, but did take ol Roy over here, then I might say “he’s our best customer” I wouldn’t say- “Well, he’s our best customer and I’m trying to incentivize other customers to buy more from me.” BUT, BM doesn’t see all donors or alumnus as their customers.

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  4. Castleberry

    I am also curious about the remaining 2,700 tickets in the allotment. What was the exact breakdown to students, faculty, staff, sponsors and family?

    I’ve often wondered how many tickets were set aside for “staff”. Are these ticket office employees? They’re doing a job that my donations pay for. Are they going to the game with tickets I couldn’t buy?

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    • Paul

      Staff are the folks that actually run the school. Faculty teach and hold lots of interminably long meetings. Staff actually make the school run. Think operations in a business. They’re your IT folks, your department administrators, bursar, business services, HR, registrar, plant operations, financial aid, campus police and such.

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    • Aladawg

      800 for students, 400 faculty about 500 to players and the rest to the “presidents entourage” according to Cearley. Also the Band tickets don’t count vs. the allotment.

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  5. DawgPhan

    wow didnt know that ND tickets would be that expensive.

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    • The cheapest on the secondary market are about $500 apiece right now.

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      • JCDAWG83

        That’s actually quite a bargain compared to what it takes in “donation” and purchasing tickets for the God awful home schedule to be able to buy them from the university. I figure I can buy 2 for ND, 2 for SC, 2 for MO, 2 for KY and still not spend the same as I would spend for the “donation” and 2 season tickets.

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    • You should see how much they are on the secondary market.

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      • DawgPhan

        I am sure that ole greg is licking his chops at the idea of charging $170 for those visitors tickets in 2 years.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Cousin Eddie

          He is trying to figure out how to get all the “home” tickets on the secondary market himself instead of giving them out to the “owner” of the seat.

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    • Napoleon BonerFart

      That’s always the rub. Donating and buying tickets through the school means a cheaper price on the highest demand games. But, you end up paying through the nose for the cupcakes.

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      • That’s exactly why we gave them up this year. We’re going to Notre Dame this year and it’s going to be cheaper for my wife and I to get two tickets on the secondary market to this marquee game than it would be to pay for a shitty home schedule where we likely won’t attend most of the games anyways.

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      • JCDAWG83

        I disagree. The only real benefit of buying through the school is knowing where your seat will be and not having to negotiate the purchase on game day. The cupcake game tickets are always plentiful for $10 each on game day, maybe $20 if it’s an evening game. The “big” games can almost always be had for $100 per seat or less.

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  6. Napoleon BonerFart

    Reminds me of certain readers who frequently rant about the million dollar scholarships our athletes receive as justification for denying them other forms of remuneration.

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    • I saw that Schwarz post awhile back and it’s something that Jay Bilas constantly harps on. It’s impossible to accurately “value” the scholarship (in true dollars and cents) because the schools are effectively paying themselves an amount where there literally is no incremental cost. I refuse to believe that for the 100 or so athletes between football and basketball that the schools are hiring additional faculty or building additional buildings to accommodate the increase in student headcount. Their costs are already subsidized by the other 300 students in those mass lectures. It literally costs them nothing to admit and “educate” these athletes and they benefit generously off the efforts of said athletes. Quite the racket if you can get it, I suppose.

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      • Normaltown Mike

        well enrollment is capped at the UGA and there is a finite number of dorms so there is certainly an opportunity cost for an athlete vs. a regular student but to your point, the real cost of that “Intro to Music” lecture is pretty marginal, much less the real cost of “Principles of Basketball”

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  7. Captain Obvious

    I’m exhausted just reading this. I work with a golden domer a-hole anyway. I’ve seen Rudy enough times, not to waste 3k on a trip when I can simply watch it on my new samsung 65″ curved 4k ultra right here from east beach.

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  8. PTC DAWG

    Seems fair to me..

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  9. Cojones

    Check the ND side of the field for seats. Wouldn’t think that many knowledgeable ND fans would like to witness a UGA takedown in one of their “off” years. And it’s a helluva lot more fun to be able to hear your voice lifted above the adjacent home crowd. Of course, you could get your ass kicked by the home folks, but the object here is to get a ticket to see the game live, amirite?

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    • Will (The Other One)

      It’s a ND crowd, I don’t think an arsewhupping is a big risk, mostly a stern talking-to or a frown and a stare if you try to stand for most of the game.

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  10. Macallanlover

    My biggest complaint is why the faculty and staff (not involved directly, football coaches’ spouses, etc.) should get any tickets at all. Unless of course they meet the donor levels required.

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  11. Bulldog Joe

    “$32 million a year to help pay the university back”

    I’ll be willing to bet this is one of the very few areas where The Georgia Way laps the SEC field, while its brings up the rear in COA stipends for its athletes and operational budgets for its participating sports programs.

    Winning the Georgia Way.

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  12. Debby Balcer

    Does this mean someone could just donate big bucks this year to get the tickets or would they have to have been donating for longer?

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    • JCDAWG83

      I imagine if you donated $10,000 this year, you could buy ND tickets. I don’t know why someone would do that but I bet the university would let you buy them.

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      • JG Shellnutt

        If you have already donated $67,000 in the past

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      • Chi-town Dawg

        You’d have to donate at least $50,000 to the McGill Fund where they’d multiply your contribution by 1.5x or 2x in order to buy tickets with a single donation. Then you’d still have to contribute at least enough to the Hartman Fund to buy ND tickets. Otherwise, you’d need a cumulative score of 67,000 or higher.

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    • 80dawg

      They would have to donate $ 67,000 to have enough points to qualify to buy any.

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  13. Chico Dawg

    It’s cumulative points- and then what you donate this year is the measure on how many you get for this particular game…this assures that anyone on a lease for a sky box will get the max ND tickets so they can sell them on stub hub and get back some of their costs for the box. But if you’ve been donating the minimum for the last 60 years and have over 67,000 points, they can cut you down to only 2. So total points matter, just not as much as what you have given today. So if someone donated $67,000 this year, they would get the best of both worlds.

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  14. Aladawg

    My comment revolves around the fact that “Everyone who could” bought their maximum. For many they will pay for the trip or their donation in part by selling 4 of the six thru stub hub or other venues. I’m at 65,000 points giving over 30 years and I got nothin and will have to buy from the fat cats. It sux

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  15. 80dawg

    What is bothersome is how there are always UGA seating area tickets available on the secondary market. Too many loyal high donors who buy more than needed & sell for profit.

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  16. I am trying to wrap my noggin around the thought of donating 67k to the athletic association. That is one hell of a lot of money(to me).

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