Nebraska’s athletics department is apparently planning on keeping every penny for the team’s ill-fated season opening tilt against Akron, despite the game being cancelled due to bad weather just after its opening kickoff last weekend. The excuse? Apparently because tickets were sold on the secondary market.
Lightning, occurring right after the game’s opening kickoff in Lincoln on Saturday, initially postponed the season opener and debut of new Nebraska coach Scott Frost. When a line of serious storms persisted in the area, the game was eventually called off, with early hopes of a postponement to Sunday falling through due to the difficulty in securing last-minute hotel accommodations for the entire travelling party for a Division I football team.
But the Cornhuskers are aiming to keep every penny related to the 85,000-odd tickets sold anyways. “No refunds will be issued for game tickets, many of which were sold on the secondary market for well above face value as the scheduled opener was to mark the anticipated coaching debut of Scott Frost,” reads ESPN’s coverage of the decision.
There has been mention that the teams could attempt to make up the game – according to a statement released by Nebraska’s athletic director Bill Moos, if the game is needed by either team to secure bowl eligibility, they might squeeze it in. In that case “fans are encouraged to hold onto their tickets from last night’s game in the event a game were to be added later in the season.”
But for now, it appears the school has every intention of hanging onto the purse with no plans for distributing refunds. According to ESPN’s coverage, the $1.17 million that the Mid-American Conference school was contracted to receive for the appearance at Memorial Stadium is also in question. “I’m sure the university’s going to be talking about the language in the contract,” Nebraska deputy AD and chief of staff Bob Burton said. “But that’ll be done with our CFO and athletic director talking to Akron.”
The reaction to the naked cash grab hasn’t been terribly kind.
“If no game is added, it sure sounds like ticket holders are just out of luck (and money),” writes Michael Rand in the Star Tribune. “That wouldn’t sit well with me if I had a ticket.”
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“Lolol Nebraska isn’t refunding tickets for the weather canceled game last week. Wish I could say I’m surprised at the scumbag university, but I’m not,” wrote @ThatsMrTtoyou on twitter.
“Talk about a scummy move. I don’t know the contract terms you agree to when you purchase Nebraska tickets, but I’d assume you could win a legal case in terms of getting your money back if you purchased the tickets,” writes Intern Jack Mac on Barstoolsports. “I do understand that Nebraska does need the money to pay the players…….never mind.”
“Bill Moos’ first mistake as AD was to not move this game up,” wrote @AustinDam on twitter. “I know we were going to be on primetime, but you don’t get a 90% storm chances often in Nebraska. Now 90,000 fans will be out tickets, flights, and hotels.”
The mention of secondary ticketing is a curious attempt at throwing blame elsewhere by the Nebraska administrators. On any legitimate ticketing market, cancelled contests are granted refunds to the buyer. It’s a chain reaction that starts with the initial purchase being refunded at the point of sale, which then triggers refunds through the ecosystem. In reality, given the likely high price the market was reaching for the new coaches debut at home, the secondary markets will be out far greater money on the refund process than the Nebraska ticketing department.
Even the betting markets are going to make things right with their customers. According to Patrick Everson of @Covers, if a game isn’t played within eight days of the original scheduled action, bets will be refunded to those holding tickets.
It will be interesting to see whether or not the Nebraska administration will walk back their stance on keeping the money in the face of people realizing that they may be out hundreds of dollars in exchange for watching a kickoff and then standing in pouring rain for a long time. Should the game not be rescheduled later in the season, the school may find itself with a PR nightmare on its hands in exchange for the cost of those tickets.