Outgoing FSU president offers to buy 5,000 student tickets for NIT game

Florida State president Eric Barron has offered to buy tickets for the first 5,000 students who show up to Wednesday's NIT game against Louisiana Tech.

Melina Vastola/Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State president Dr. Eric Barron has an offer for students: wear garnet, show up for Wednesday’s NIT third-round game against Louisiana Tech, and the tickets are on him.

Barron, who will leave the school on April 2 to become Penn State’s president, said Tuesday afternoon that he will pay for the first 5,000 students who show up with their student ID at the Donald L. Tucker Center for Wednesday’s 7 p.m. game against Louisiana Tech.

"Why? — because I want to send our team to the NIT finals at Madison Square Garden knowing what FSU support really means," Barron says in an open letter that was posted on seminoles.com. "Further, over the summer, renovations will take place at the Tucker Center, including seat replacement. If everyone wears garnet, we will have a good sense of what an all-garnet Tucker Center will look like next fall. The Tucker Center will never look the same."

The school has also announced plans for buses to drive through campus Wednesday night offering a free ride to the game.

Florida State (21-13) defeated Georgetown 101-90 on Monday night before a small but vocal crowd of 3,541, all of whom purchased general admission or reduced-priced youth tickets.

Ticket sales are a challenge for NIT games because the 2013-14 season tickets stop with the final regular season game. So Florida State officials have also lowered ticket prices to $10 for general admission and $4 for youth for Wednesday’s game as an attempt to fill the 12,500-seat arena.

Florida State and Seminole Boosters Inc., took over ownership of the Tucker Center last summer. School officials and boosters have discussed a number of renovation options to the 32-year-old arena, with two scheduled for this summer: changing the colors of the seats and replacing the sound system.

You can follow Bob Ferrante on Twitter @bobferrante or email him at bobferrante17@gmail.com.