Emotions are building about University of South Florida football. It may have more to do about a new ticket pricing plan than the team. The man who came up with the plan is athletic director Mark Harlan.
“This isn’t easy. Change is hard on anything that you do. But I’m not here to do the easy things. I’m here to the things that are right for the program,” Harlan told 8 On Your Side.
According to Harlan, a study showed alarming, inequitable ticket pricing for football and basketball.
“People could be sitting in the same section, the same row and paying dramatically different prices, which is really not a best practice,” Harlan noted.
Harlan claims the school lowered ticket prices for 85 percent of the seats and he’s heard a lot of positive feedback. “But I’m also not going to deny that there are some people that don’t feel good about it,” he added.
One of them is big money donor Tom Boyer.
In order to keep his 16 seats this season, the school added $4,900 on top of his annual $10,000 donation. Boyer claims that violates a 2004 agreement signed by USF president Judy Genshaft.
“I don’t have my tickets. I don’t want my tickets,” Boyer told 8 On Your Side.
“What I can say is, ‘I feel very strongly that we’ve honored the written agreement in this case,'” Harlan added.
USF alum Nick Cox points out the new pricing plan jumped his annual donation from $200 to $1,200 dollars.
“I understand he’s obviously been sitting in some really great seats, and I appreciate them. And again we go back to our market study and we believe this is a fair amount for these seats, and he’s got a decision to make there,” Harlan said.
Some alumni think the athletic department is in a financial bind and the new ticket prices are a money grab.
“I have a hard time imagining being a money grab when over 80 percent of our seats have decreased,” Harlan said.
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