Sunday, January 30, 2005
Arkansas State says it's been `generous' with attendance figures
JONESBORO, Ark. -- Arkansas State University's athletic
director says the school has been "generous" when announcing
basketball figures and acknowledges that the number of people
buying season tickets for Indian basketball games has been tracking
downward for several years.
Documents obtained by The Jonesboro Sun through the state
Freedom of Information Act show that the announced attendance
exceeds the actual count at the gate and that season ticket sales
for the sport have been dropping for six years.
Athletic Director Dean Lee, at the school for three years, said
Friday that, "Quite honestly, it's a pretty generous count that we
"It's one that is, in most cases, that is fairly accurate. You
try to be as generous as possible. If we're going to err, we're
going to err on the positive side," he said.
Lee said Arkansas State has a history of announcing attendance
figures with "gross exaggerations across the board."
Announced average attendance reached 6,616 during the Indians'
1998-99 season, when Arkansas State made the NCAA tournament for
the first time in school history. So far this season, the average
attendance is 4,161 -- the lowest in the 18-year history of the
Lee said although the announced attendance numbers are false,
they are embellished to benefit the program and for appearance's
sake among other schools in the Sun Belt Conference.
"I would say not most, but just about everybody exaggerates
attendance," Lee said. "We have. I don't think there is probably
an institution (that hasn't).
"We want to stand for a little bit stronger integrity from that
Lee said the important figure in department finances is the
season ticket sales, because they are the bread-and-butter for
generating revenue. Also important are walk-up ticket sales,
student tickets and complimentary tickets used, he said.
Arkansas State sold 2,390 season tickets this year, which is
lower than the 2,773 in 1996-97, which was coach Dickey Nutt's
first year at Jonesboro. Season tickets hit a peak of 3,256 in
Nutt is in the final year of his contract. Lee declined to renew
the contract after a season review last year.
Nutt said he is disappointed that fans are not showing up in the
numbers that they have been in the past.
"I'm sorry for that," Nutt said. "I take full responsibility
for that, and I know that that's all part of a basketball coach's
Nutt is the third-winningest coach in Arkansas State history and
has an all-time record of 146-131. As of Friday night, Arkansas
State led the Sun Belt's eastern division.
While ticket sales have gone down, ticket prices have also gone
up. They were $7 each when the Convocation Center opened in 1987
and now top out at $16.