HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors basketball game against Long Beach State sells out, the UH will limit the number of students who can get into the arena using their student ID's for admission at 515.
On Monday, anticipating a big crowd, UH sent an email to students asking them to get to the Stan Sheriff Center early.
"We are trying to be proactive and transparent," said UH athletics Director David Matlin, adding that the 515-limit has been in place since 2010.
"If we're not sold out by the the time the game starts, we'll keep issuing student tickets," he said. "But we have to monitor it. And so once we're sold out that's when we'll cut it off."
Students aren't happy about the limit, which they read about in the UH-Manoa student newspaper, "Ka Leo."
Matlin said the article made it seem like the university was instituting a new policy without telling students.
"I just think they didn't have all the information," he said.
UH students pay a $50-a-semester activity fee that allows them into UH sporting event. And the university is quick to point out a student has never been turned away because of the policy.
The university hasn't had a sellout for men's basketball since 2004. Last season, an average of 6,434 tickets were issued per home game, with about 315 students showing up. This season, the numbers are down to 6,324 tickets issued on average and 255 students per game.
But last week, 8,000 fans turned out for a game. And the high mark for student attendance was the season opener, when 671 students watched the Rainbows in person.
The discussion about the student limit comes as the athletics department faces a multi-million dollar budget deficit. Increased interest in the winning basketball team and more paying customers mean revenue.
But some think the limit is putting money before students.
"I feel like there should be maybe a limit of 1,000," said student Jake Reichard.
Student Heather Cameron countered, "If you really want to see game and you're really dedicated, then you'll get there early."
The Manoa Maniacs are trying to get students to dress up as Minions for the game. They believe the limit discourages students from showing up. "Students don't understand. What does this mean? If I come in late, maybe I just shouldn't go because I probably won't get in," organization president Amy Kitchener said.
Matlin said every UH game has a sellout limit.
"Having students there is a game changer for us," he added. "That's what college athletics is about. We want them to be here, and be loud."