OPINION | Donor points fund Dawgs’ points

High-caliber athletics come at a price—one that some fans argue is too high.

The Collegian reported in “Seat not saved” on Nov. 2 that  some season ticket holders were told to increase their donation to retain their seats in accordance with the athletics department’s priority points program.

While it’s unfortunate, it is a reality that fans need to accept. Donations, by definition, are given willingly, and people can choose to opt out.

The priority points program, which has been in place at Butler for four years, takes into account the length of time a person has held season tickets, as well as how much he or she has donated to the school. About 20 to 25 people are moved every year due to the points system.

Fans are seeing a more popular and better product. If economics follows, that experience is going to cost more.

Attendance was more than 8,500 strong at the exhibition game against Franklin on Saturday, which shows that the fans will pack Hinkle Fieldhouse—regardless of price.

Season tickets are in demand, and people will stop buying if ticket prices became exorbitant or they decide the donation threshold is too high. Lower-level season tickets cost $549, which is a value in a town where a nose-bleed seat for what has turned out to be an abysmal Colts season starts at $380 and a decent seat costs $790.

Drawing strong recruits, retaining a great coach, keeping the facilities from crumbling and competing with other Division I schools take money. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Duke University spends $12.3 million on its program and Indiana University spends $7.7 million.

Butler spends only $2.8 million on the basketball program—an expense equal to its revenues in 2009-10.

While the department should not aspire to emulate the Blue Devils or the Hoosiers in many aspects, they could take pointers from their fundraising. No company or department can spend what it takes in without profit and expect to grow.

Butler also has fewer alumni to solicit and fewer seats to sell than most other notable teams, and the price of admission is finally having to reflect that.

It’s regrettable that the burden fell on donors who may not have been duly notified of the change, but the revenues will fund not only operations but scholarships. The money will grow the pie and make Butler a more attractive school for top recruits.

There are a lot of band wagon fans joining the crowds in Hinkle this season. But if the long time supporters and new fans alike want a team good enough to maintain a bandwagon, someone will have to foot the bill.

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