Indiana Supreme Court gives NCAA ticket policy win

The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that the NCAA’s

ticket-purchasing lottery for the men’s Final Four does not violate

state law because buyers received no prize other than the tickets

they pay for.

Four fans filed the suit on behalf ”themselves and all others

similarly situated,” contending that the way tickets were doled

out for the 2009 national semifinals and championship game

constituted an illegal lottery under Indiana law. The NCAA is based

in Indianapolis.

The state’s high court ruled 5-0 in favor of the NCAA.

”The NCAA randomly allocated championship sporting event

tickets to applicants who had offered to purchase tickets by

submitting the face value of the tickets along with a nonrefundable

handling fee,” Justice Frank Sullivan wrote in the decision

released late Thursday. ”The face-value amount (but not the

handling fee) was refunded to applicants whose offers were not

accepted.”

The NCAA has used the same system for years to determine which

fans get tickets to the organization’s most visible championship

event, in which ticket demand far exceeds what’s available.

In addition to submitting the face value for the tickets,

potential buyers were also required to pay the nonrefundable

handling fee of $6 per ticket.

But the court determined that because the ticket winners were

selected randomly and that only the handling fee was given back to

those who did not get tickets, the system did not meet Indiana’s

definition of an illegal lottery.

”Contrary to the plaintiffs argument, the fact that the fee is

nonrefundable means that both groups receive the same amount after

the blind draw,” Sullivan wrote. ”Those applicants whose offers

to purchase tickets are accepted receive tickets for $150 per

ticket, whereas those applicants whose offers are rejected receive

$150 in cash per ticket.”

A similar case is currently pending in the 7th U.S. Circuit

Court of Appeals. The NCAA said it hoped the Indiana decision would

lead to the dismissal of the other case.

”We have long maintained that our fans have access to NCAA

championship tickets in a manner that is fair and legal, and with

this opinion, we believe the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals should

dismiss this case,” NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in a

statement.