As the John Carroll University men’s basketball team continued their run into the NCAA Division III basketball tournament, excitement around campus started to build.
The excitement was so great that Assistant Athletic Director for External Operations Jane Evans said she was overwhelmed by the amount of ticket requests.
“My e-mail inbox was full and we had problems with the telephones because the bulk of calls was so great,” she said. “I got hundreds upon hundreds of calls and e-mails that I didn’t even have time to personally get back to everyone yet, but I hope to.”
The excitement, among some students at least, started to turn to frustration when many found out that they wouldn’t be able to attend the games held in the DeCarlo Varsity Center.
After junior Chris Zajac hit a last-second shot to knock off Carnegie-Mellon University on Mar. 7, the Blue Streaks advanced to the sectional round of the tournament.
The way things turned out, JCU, Capital University, The University of Texas-Dallas and Guilford College were the four teams that were scheduled to meet.
Because the NCAA provides transportation for the competing teams, they try to minimize travel whenever possible.
The Blue Streaks had captured the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament titles so they had the clear-cut edge of Capital University of Columbus.
If the sectional was held in Dallas or Greensboro, N.C., the NCAA would be on the hook for airfare for three teams.
By hosting it in Ohio, less teams had to hop on a plane.
With JCU being the host team, they had the right to hold on to half of all tickets for the games.
The DeCarlo Varsity Center seats 1,200 people, so JCU received 600 tickets and the other three schools competing received 200 tickets each.
Of the 600 tickets that belonged to JCU, 330 tickets were set aside for current University students.
Director of Athletics and Recreation Laurie Massa said devoting more than half of the ticket allotment for students was more than is typically allowed.
“At the Division I institutions I’ve worked with, students are usually left with a much smaller ticket allotment,” she said.
Massa said Division I schools typically take care of their boosters and alumni first, and then give whatever, if anything, is left to the students.
She also said ticket requests from the JCU coaching staff and basketball team were attended to first, but not all were filled.
Tickets went on sale Wednesday at 11 a.m. and were sold out by 2 p.m. the same day.
JCU administrators expected Capital University to use all 200 of their tickets because of the more than manageable two-hour trip.
The other two schools, UT-Dallas and Guilford, had until noon on Thursday, the day before the game, to return any unsold tickets.
Between those two schools, 176 tickets were left unsold and were returned to JCU.
Of the 176 tickets, the NCAA requires the host school to split the unsold tickets with any institutions that want them.
Thus, JCU and Capital each received 88 additional tickets. When it was all said and done, JCU had 688 tickets to Friday night’s Sweet Sixteen game against Guilford.
Some felt that because the game between JCU and Capital was the second game of the night, they should have completely cleared the gym after the first game, thus allowing more JCU supporters into the crowd.
Massa said that was an idea that was discussed leading up to the games, but in the end it was not feasible.
“It was something we thought about and discussed as a staff,” she said of clearing out the gym.
“There’s an approval process you have to go through. In the end, we decided there wasn’t enough time for us to clear out the gym in an efficient and safe manner.”