Robert Miller had an extra ticket.
Saturday afternoon outside Allen Fieldhouse, the Kansas City, Mo., resident hurried around trying to unload the $55 ticket before the Kansas University-Colorado basketball game.
But his plan hit a snag. As Miller was trying to get the attention of other fans outside the entrance to the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, KU Public Safety officers approached him.
They gave him a warning about soliciting the sale of tickets on KU property, which is prohibited.
“You should be able to sell your own ticket,” Miller said.
KU Public Safety officers have embarked on a campaign for four years during football and basketball game days to crack down on selling tickets on state property.
They’ve also taken the operation a step further this basketball season. Before Saturday’s home game against Oklahoma State, people trying to scalp a ticket or fans trying to get rid of an extra one might want to be careful about whom they approach.
It might be a police officer in plain clothing.
In recent weeks outside KU basketball games, officers have given three citations for criminal trespassing to people suspected of scalping tickets.
Capt. Schuyler Bailey said officers tend to be busier during the more high-profile basketball games, especially since Big 12 play started in January. Officers concentrate on educating people first — whether they are frequent scalpers or seem to be fans trying to get rid of one ticket.
“We make contact with people. We notify them of university policy and tell them if you are seen again doing this, you could be subject to an arrest,” Bailey said.
Before the Kansas State University game Jan. 13, a man — whom police said they warned previously — was issued a notice to appear in Lawrence Municipal Court after he solicited game tickets to an undercover officer.
Also, the next week before the Texas A&M; game Jan. 19, officers in plain clothes issued criminal trespassing citations to two men for soliciting the officers for tickets.
One of the men was from Oklahoma and had no ties to Lawrence so he had to post a cash bond, Bailey said.
City Prosecutor Jerry Little said a conviction in these trespassing cases can carry a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail. The judge decides the penalty.
The three citations in the last month are probably a little bit higher than what officers normally issue, Bailey said.
“We’re not going to keep warning the same people,” he said.
KU officials began asking public safety officers to crack down on scalpers outside sporting events in 2005.
KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said the athletics department had received complaints before about scalpers approaching fans.
“We’ve gotten fewer complaints from our patrons certainly the last couple of years,” he said.
Officers wait to observe a transaction before they approach someone on the street, Bailey said.
They encounter both frequent ticket scalpers, who are trying to make a buck on ticket transactions, or fans just trying to unload a single ticket.
“It doesn’t matter. You cannot sell anything on university property,” Bailey said.
Officers also hear from people who don’t understand why they can’t just sell a ticket one time, he said. That’s why officers try to make it an educational effort that includes a warning.
Miller, who said he was trying to get rid of one general admission ticket last weekend, said his encounter with law enforcement surprised him.
“I’m not going to buy any season tickets because of the harassment you go through,” he said.