By Kyle Dierking, NewsOn6.com
STILLWATER, OK -- It's been called the best venue in college basketball.
"The noise is deafening at times - it's unlike anything I've ever been to before," said Oklahoma State graduate student Jon Paa. "As soon as I went to my first (game) I was hooked on coming back."
Now OSU's Gallagher-Iba Arena has another distinction: the most expensive place in the country for a student to watch a major college basketball game at $242 for a season ticket.
"In my opinion, I think our job is to support them, to be loud, to be enthusiastic and go to class," Paa said. "Not to have the financial burden put on us as much."
Paa is former president of Aggies Spirit Group: a club dedicated to supporting Oklahoma State athletics. He is a diehard fan, but says he doesn't want to pay the price tag for a men's basketball student season ticket.
"I just don't have the money," Paa said. "I think it's that way for a lot of students. There are a lot of good basketball fans that want to go to the games and want to support the team, but students just don't have that money."
The university used to require students to purchase a $150 "all-sports pass" just to be eligible to buy men's basketball season tickets. This year, OSU amended the policy, giving students a choice of purchasing football or men's basketball season tickets.
Let's calculate the costs. All students pay a $3 athletic fee per credit hour. So if you're taking 15 hours per semester, that's $90 a year in fees. If you want to see football, its $150 and if you're buying basketball tickets too, that's another $242, for a grand total of $482.
Newson6.com sent multiple e-mails to OSU Athletic Director Mike Holder who did not respond to our requests for an interview about the student ticket policy.
Paa cut costs by splitting basketball tickets with another student this season, but says many students just quit going to games.
"If the ticket prices hold the same for next year and I'm unable to find a bargain somewhere, then I don't think I'll be buying season tickets next year," Paa said.
NewsOn6.com called all 63 major college basketball conference schools. The only other institution that charged more than $200 solely for a men's basketball season ticket was Indiana. But 42 of those schools charged less than $100, and 24 either have free admission or costs are covered by student fees.
OSU has seen a significant decline in student basketball ticket sales. During the 2006-07 season, students bought more than 3,700 season tickets. Three years later that number has shrunk by more than 2,000 - including a sales decrease of more than $397,000.
Paa acknowledges the team's record hasn't helped, but he blames the decrease on the ticket policy.
"There's definitely more empty seats - especially in the student section," Paa said. "I think a lot of fans take a lot of pride in the arena and having school spirit. When there are less people there and there's not that enthusiasm, it's kind of sad and a little disappointing."
STUDENT SEASON TICKETS STATS
OSU Sales Round-Up: The Cowboys have the lowest number of season tickets sold in the eight years since Gallagher-Iba Arena was renovated. Oklahoma State sold 3,972 student season tickets during the 2000-01 season and had $317,760 in sales. This year 1,642 students bought season tickets and had $345,860 in sales.
Then and Now: Oklahoma State charged students $98 for tickets during the 2000-01 season. The last two years, student season tickets for men's basketball have been $242. The highest price increase came after the 2001-01 season. The university went from charging $98 to $159 for a men's basketball student season ticket.
Best Bargain in the Big 12: Oklahoma charges students $130 for a basketball season ticket, but if you attend 16 or more games (90%) you receive a full refund. Anyone who goes to at least 14 games receives a $50 credit.
Highest Conference Average: The Big 12 has an average price of $122.92 for student season tickets. The Big 10 came in a close second with $120.82.
Lowest Conference Average: The ACC charged an average of $17.25. Nine of 12 schools in the conference charge free admission or costs are covered by student fees. Seven SEC schools let students in free to games or costs are covered by student fees.
EDITORS NOTE: Six days after NewsOn6.com released this story, the OSU Athletic Department released a statement, saying they would lower the student ticket price to $10 for the final two home games against Texas and Kansas State.
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