SALT LAKE CITY — Billed as “potential accommodations for football season ticket holders,” the University of Utah athletics department emailed out a letter earlier this week to address concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. It follows the decision to extend the renewal deadline to May 13.
“It’s gone very, very well, so far. Much better than expected,” said Utah deputy athletics director for external operations Scott Kull, who has oversight of alumni relations, branding, communications, development, licensing, marketing, multi-media and ticketing for the department.
Kull explained that the letter was sent to ease people’s minds a little bit and to provide some clarity.
“Early on we didn’t really want to rush to judgement so to speak and make a rash decision,” Kull said. “But we’ve had an opportunity to hear from our stakeholders and season ticket holders and be able to adjust a plan that hopefully will meet our season ticket holders’ needs.”
The letter emphasized that the department is following the advice of university leadership, health experts and medical officials.
“We are dedicated to protecting the health, safety and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, staff and supporters,” said the announcement. “Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have been working to adapt timelines and policies to this unique and continually evolving situation.”
The letter includes a reminder that “it is too soon to speculate about a cancellation or alteration of the 2020 football season.” Even so, some measures have been put in place.
“What we didn’t want to do is come out with something and make our season ticket holders and Utah fans believe that we had information that they didn’t,” Kull said. “And we still don’t know. We’re in the same boat as everybody else.”
However, after many discussions with season ticket holders and others, he explained that it was best to come out with some options.
ICYMI, Missy Reindstadtler shared her moving story at the Crimson Carpet Awards. By renewing your season tickets and generously supporting the Crimson Club, you provide these special experiences to every Utah student-athlete. U make these moments happen! #goutes pic.twitter.com/XquywYSHCk— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) April 24, 2020
We do believe there is going to be a football season,” Kull continued. “That’s the No. 1 question that we get asked. But it’s a fluid situation and we don’t know for sure.”
Announced options include responses to questions such as:
- If the season isn’t played will I receive a full refund?
“The answer to that question is yes,” Kull said. “However, would you consider us crediting you for the 2021 season if for some reason we don’t play football next year. So really those are two options.”
- How can I help the program or help these student-athletes because the university still has a $10 million scholarship bill?
“We would say, well, would you consider donating your scholarship seating requirement as a tax-deductible donation for student-athlete needs — right now?” Kull said. “We just go through the same process in 2021. So, that in effect would be the three options.”
The scholarship seating requirement used to be tax-deductible. That is no longer the case. But if interested, the 2020 requirement (assuming football is not played) could be received as a gift or a donation to help student-athletes instead. Then it could be tax-deductible.
Scenarios involving the changing of game dates and/or the number of games at Rice-Eccles Stadium, though, remain unresolved.
“We empathize with the frustration felt during this uncertain time and we are committed to treating you with the gratitude and fairness your contributions to our community merit,” the letter said. “Thank you for your ongoing support of our student-athletes.”
Utah athletics encourages season ticket holders to contact the ticket office with any questions.
“I think the most important thing that can be said is that season tickets — 100% of season ticket costs, however, you want to say it — benefit our student-athletes,” Kull said. “And we have a scholarship bill, whether we play games or not.”
However, Kull emphasized that they’re 100% anticipating that games will be played and they have to be prepared for that.
“But the fact of the matter is we have that scholarship bill regardless of whether we play games or not,” Kull added. “So season tickets keep our department healthy and provide dreams for these student-athletes.”