CU Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen was interviewed yesterday over the whole issue and acknowledged that they knew they were going to face criticism for choosing their supporters over the general public. Creighton's position does have some merit. Originally, Creighton sold NCAA tickets to season ticket holders on a 1-to-1 basis; if you have 2 season tickets, you could buy 2 NCAA tickets. I don't have a huge problem with that. I don't like it...but I understand that's the way it works.
When that was done, Creighton was left with about 1,000 tickets. At that time, they chose to remove the limits and allow their ticket holders to buy extra tickets. Their logic was that if they didn't do that, Creighton and the Qwest Center would be forced to hold a ticket lottery, where the NCAA would charge everyone who entered the lottery $9 per ticket, whether they got tickets or not. Creighton decided that would result in a large number of unhappy folks who got charged fees and not get any tickets, and so they chose the lesser (in their minds) evil of offering the remaining tickets to their ticketholders.
I see Rasmussen's point...but I'm still not sure I agree with it. And let's clear up something else: this was permissible under NCAA rules, but just because it's permitted by the rules doesn't necessarily make it right. Ever run across a rule that isn't quite right? How about the tuck rule? What about the clock rules in college football last season?
Basically, it comes down to the fact that the Qwest Center was built with the promise of big events for the people of Omaha. The fact remains that the people of Omaha are paying for this building, and they never had a shot to buy a ticket to one of these premier events. The issue of the $9 fee is disconcerting, but that's an NCAA problem. If you let folks know that there are only 1,000 tickets available, people will get the idea that the chances in the lottery aren't very good, and people will set their expectations.
The primary problem with Creighton's decision is that it perpetuates the perception of elitism of Creighton supporters. And when KXSP's Matt Perrault throws gasoline onto the fire in his blog, the perception becomes ever-so-greater. Let's look at a few things Perrault said:
The very definition of elitism. 'Nuff said.
If you aren’t a Creighton fan, well, sorry – maybe you should be if you want the chance to go to the NCAA basketball events at the Jays home arena.
How the heck did Nebraska become the host for the NCAA volleyball championship? It's not Creighton's home court? Think again. That's not a Husker logo on the Qwest Center calendar; that was a Creighton home game at the Qwest. Plus, it's not like the idea of the Huskers hosting a basketball game at the Qwest Center is completely foreign. And did you know that Rutgers is hosting this weekend's regional at the Meadowlands on Seton Hall's home court? In other words, Creighton's involvement was not required to bring an NCAA regional to Omaha.
Without CU running the event and asking for the event to be held with the help of the Missouri Valley Conference – the event wouldn’t have ever come to Omaha.
When I first heard about this story, guess who were the first people I heard criticize it. A Missouri fan (the HuskerHater), an UNO alumnus, and an Iowa State alum. Yep, some Husker fans are upset too. But it's not just Husker fans who are criticizing it. The problem is that the NCAA championship transcends Creighton, but also appeals to all sports fans in the Omaha area.
And that’s why so many people are bitching about this. Husker fans believe they are entitled to whatever they want because that is the way it has been in this state for years.
Even Creighton knows that it's not "their" event. When CU announced that tickets were gone, the press release was titled "Omaha Announces Sellout For 2008 Basketball Tournament". Problem is that while the people of Omaha are the reason why this great event is coming to Omaha, it's Creighton fan who gets the spoils. Bruce Rasmussen at least realizes this, Matt Perrault doesn't. (And don't even get me started on Travis Justice...)