November 17, 2017 Katie Gainer
Staff members of several college basketball teams were arrested this fall as the result of a years-long FBI investigation into bribery and corruption, including University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich. According to the Louisville Courier Journal, the school’s athletic department returned $419,166 to season ticket-holders who sought refunds following their firings.
Louisville is one of America’s most prosperous college basketball programs, earning $116 million more than any other program in the last decade, and Pitino was an important factor. During his 16-year tenure at Louisville, the Cardinals reached three Final Fours, won one championship, and saw 11 players selected in the NBA draft.
Given these stats, coupled with the scandal, it comes as no surprise that over one hundred season ticket-holders came forward requesting refunds for this season. Auburn University, who also saw staff arrests, issued refunds immediately, and were reportedly able to resell most of those tickets. Louisville athletic department spokesman Kenny Klein said at the time of “the change in leadership” that he planned instead to “discuss any questions or concerns with season ticket holders on an individual basis”.
Now, he reports that season ticket-holders have been refunded a total of over $419k – $239,566 in ticket revenue and $179,600 in additional donations required to purchase some tickets in premium locations – to 126 individuals or businesses who controlled a total of 315 seats at the KFC Yum Center.
It’s unclear whether Louisville will have the same success in ticket reselling as Auburn given their home court’s capacity more than doubles that of Auburn Arena. Klein did say that 78 tickets have been resold on a season basis, earning back $70,187 in ticket revenue and $101,600 in donations. The remaining tickets are being resold on an individual game basis.
The crowd for Sunday’s season opener against George Mason was announced as 18,304, but in reality was closer to 10,000 in the 22,090 seat stadium.