Before I Worked at NACCU

Posted By: John Ogle Positive IDentity Blog,

For many years, I had a part-time role where I supervised about 50 ticket takers at the home football games for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. Most of these ticket takers were positioned at gates that were exclusively for entrance into the student section. Students were required at the time to present a special student ticket and their Gamecock ID card to enter the stadium. Since the cost of the student tickets were covered by student fees, the university would only allow students to enter with their own ID card. For a certain segment of the student population at every institution, they believe the rules do NOT necessarily apply to them.

Our team of ticket takers were instructed to confiscate a student ID card if it did not match the holder. But when 70,000+ fans are entering a facility moments before the start of the best entrance in college football, the ticket takers had to quickly assess those cards that needed to be confiscated.

One of my favorite stories is when a young man presented an ID card that didn’t match him. The card was immediately confiscated, and the young man walked away. A few minutes later, he came back with a young woman. This woman asked for the ID to be given back and for this “student” to be let into the game. Upon closer review of the ID card, I recognized the name of the student – it was one of the starters on the football team. He was on the field at that moment warming up. It turns out the woman was this player’s girlfriend. Needless to say, they didn’t get the ID card back. I understand scaling the stairs of the stadium was in that player’s future. 

Our biggest game each year is against the in-state rival Clemson Tigers. Every season when we hosted the Tigers, I always had at least one “student” present a Gamecock ID card and a student ticket while dressed from head to toe in orange. The sight was an assault to the senses, as one should only see that color on the highways or dinner table. (FYI South Carolina’s colors are garnet and black.) But inevitably, this person would passionately plead their case that though they have a tiger paw on their hat, they are indeed a Gamecock and HAD to get into the game. Yet no constables or magistrates were needed to adjudicate this case. A one-question quiz about where they lived on-campus would be all that was needed to get to the truth – “No, I’m sorry. There is not a Jenkins Hall.”

The full-time ticket office staff would always want to know how many ID cards we confiscated after each home game. You could always tell that the big games generated the most confiscated cards. We set a record of 65 ID cards confiscated when the Gamecocks hosted the Georgia Bulldogs one year. Eventually, the university switched to electronic distribution of tickets, and a policy was put in place that any trouble caused at a football game would result in students forfeiting their tickets for the rest of the season. As a result, ID card confiscations dropped precipitously. Sometimes, technology takes away all the fun.

John Ogle serves as membership engagement manager of NACCU and has over 20 years of higher education and association management experience.