It's a deal.
Representatives of Kansas University's faculty and staff on Thursday unanimously approved proposed changes in the way men's basketball season tickets will be distributed next year.
The changes include:
- Setting aside an additional 219 tickets for faculty and staff.
- Moving more than 900 faculty and staff out of their third-tier seats and into second-tier seats.
- Preserving the faculty and staff's 20 percent discount on ticket prices.
- Setting aside 12 front-row seats -- behind and to the side of the visiting team's bench -- for faculty and staff. A lottery will decide who gets to sit in those seats each game.
KU Athletic Director Lew Perkins either proposed or agreed to the changes during earlier negotiations with the University Senate.
Under the proposal, the number of seats set aside for faculty and staff increases from 1,427 to 1,646.
"I think we got a pretty good deal," said Ray Davis, head of the Senate Executive Committee. About 50 people -- a mix of students, staff and faculty -- attended the meeting Thursday in the auditorium at the KU Visitors Center.
The deal was approved as controversy continues over changes in the way season tickets for men's games in Allen Fieldhouse are distributed.
In June, 121 season ticket holders who had fallen behind in their payments to the Williams Fund, the fund-raising arm of the KU Athletic Corp., were sent letters telling them they had to put up $5,000 or $10,000 to keep their prime seats. Five of those 121 are plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing the corporation of abusing its authority.
Now, the corporation is considering a point system that would allocate prime seats based on donations and other factors.
It's understood, Davis said, that the 202 faculty and staff who now have seats in prime seating areas of Allen Fieldhouse will be given a choice of either accepting second-tier seats or subjecting themselves to yet-to-be-announced requirements to keep their current seats.
Davis said the requirements for faculty to keep current prime seats were likely to include membership in and substantial contributions to the Williams Fund, and a forfeiture of the 20 percent faculty discount.
Of the 202 faculty and staff with prime-seat tickets -- those in Sections H, G, F, R, S, T and 5, 6, 7, 16, 17, 18 -- 146 are thought to be Williams Fund members; 56 are not. It's unclear how many seats are involved. The prime seats are from the court's baseline to baseline on the floor and second levels of the fieldhouse.
"I think there may be some faculty or staff in prime seating who may end up with seats that aren't as good as what they have now," said Danny Kaiser, director of KU's Organizations and Leadership Center. "But it looks like that vast majority are going to end up with better seats. I know I will."
Kaiser said he's been stuck in high-in-a-corner seats since 1986.
Under the proposal, faculty and staff will be seated in sections 2, 3, D and D1; 9, 10, K and K1; 13, 14, P and P1, predominantly corner sections on the floor and second levels of the fieldhouse.
Several ticket holders have said that to keep their tickets next year, they've been told they would have to contribute at least $5,000.
But Jim Marchiony, associate director of athletics at KU, said that was not necessarily the case.
"There's no way to know right now what it will take to keep a prime seat," he said, "because that's going to depend on what people donate."
Though the details haven't been worked out, Marchiony said it was safe to assume that someone who donated more than $5,000 would get better seats than someone who contributed less.
Also, Marchiony said prime seats would be allocated annually. So a $1,000 donation may result in a good seat one year, a not-so-good seat the next.
"There's no way to know," Marchiony said.
KU athletic officials have said student seating would remain at the current level: 7,064 seats.