In March, the UCLA athletic department announced that when the new Pauley Pavilion opened for the 2011-12 season, the student section would be moved behind one of the baskets and stretch all the way to the top of the arena in order to increase home-court advantage.
"The visiting teams will shoot free throws into this basket in the second half," the email to the students read. "Good luck."
Fans weren't buying that theory and proceeded to protest the students being moved away from the sideline of the arena, with one online petition getting more than 1,000 signatures and even at least one player getting involved in the discussion.
Today, the athletic department has reversed course and decided the students will keep their sideline floor seating.
"This process reconfirms the tremendous passion that exists on campus surrounding our intercollegiate athletic events," athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. "As I have said before, the importance of creating a home-court advantage cannot be understated. An energetic and supportive student section is essential to the success of any team and it is my hope that all of the students who have been involved in this process will support our student-athletes and continue the great tradition of Pauley Pavilion."
According to the Los Angeles Times, the sideline seats represented prime real estate inside the arena.
The sideline seats occupied by students could have commanded as much as $1,198 per seat plus a $3,200 donation to the athletic department.
The seating arrangement is similar to one announced two years ago that was recently scuttled by athletics officials in response to meetings with student groups who voiced a preference for a unified cheering section. The only way to make that financially feasible, athletics officials said, was to place all the students behind one basket.
It turned out most students didn't particularly care for that option.
"It's nice to see how passionate the students are about wanting to stay courtside and wanting to be involved and wanting to be heard," Coach Ben Howland said. "I appreciate how passionate our fans are."