UPDATE: Hawkeyes suspend free tuition raffle over legal concerns - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Hawkeyes suspend free tuition raffle over legal concerns

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - When the Hawkeyes take the field, the students help lead the crowd.

"The student section gets rowdy, gets excited," said Evan Risk, a student season ticket holder. "The student section's a whole lot of fun, especially if you get close to the field."

While the biggest student fans here at the university are all fighting to get the seats right by the tunnel, filling the rest of the student section is getting harder each year.

The Athletics Department was hoping to top last year's students sales of about 7,300 and are only at about 5,000 right now. The deadline to buy is Friday. After that, the tickets will be released to the general public.

To get more students to buy, the university was trying to offer new incentives, ranging from Hy-Vee gift cards to free tuition.

But it's that "free tuition" part that may pose problems for the athletic department -- and as of Wednesday evening, athletic officials weren't sure it was entirely legal.

Athletic Director Gary Barta released the following statement at around 6 p.m. Wednesday:

"This afternoon we learned of concerns related to a student football promotion," Barta said in a written statement. "A question has been raised whether the promotion is compliant with state raffle laws. I have suspended the promotion temporarily as we determine how to make sure that this promotion is in complete compliance.

"In the end, our goal is to do everything possible to make sure that the student experience at Hawkeye football games is as fun and exciting as possible," he added.

Whether the free tuition part of it pans out, other university officials were on board with trying new things to promote football tickets to students.

"The end goal for us is to have as many students in Kinnick Stadium as possible," said Lisa Pearson, University of Iowa's director of marketing.

Students say the incentives are great, but it doesn't change the fact tickets cost $150-175 for the season.

"They're too expensive," said Frederick Zasadny, who doesn't plan to buy season tickets. "I don't have any money."

"To buy the whole tickets is really expensive, and you can usually get them just individually for a lot cheaper," said Nicole Lane, who just graduated and said she would go to one game a year.

So if the goal is to get more students inside, why not make tickets cheaper -- or better, free?

"We try and stay away from that just because we value those tickets as so high," said Pearson. "We feel like the students should be purchasing those and then we can incentivize them in other ways."

New this season is a student-only tailgate section and free food to the first students who arrive at Kinnick each game day.

To learn more about the incentives, click here: http://www.hawkeyesports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/072914aad.html
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