A small section of students at Michigan Stadium on Saturday may have to actually watch the game from their seats. Last night, the athletic department sent an e-mail to the approximately 2,000 students whose season tickets are in the south endzone — sections 11, 12 and 13. The e-mail explained that, starting with this weekend’s game against Notre Dame, the students would be required to remain seated for most of the game.
“We are asking you to respect the other Wolverine fans by not standing for the entire game,” Athletic Director Bill Martin said in his e-mail to the select students. “Students standing for long periods of time are subject to removal.”
Associate athletic director Marty Bodnar said that, during the Northern Illinois game last weekend, there were confrontations between the Michigan students and the fans who were sitting directly behind them. Bodnar said that there were reports of people throwing food and drinks at each other in that part of the stadium. He added that they would kick people out, but only if absolutely necessary.
“We don’t want that,” Bodnar said. “Believe me, that’s our last resort.”
LSA freshman Wanita Espinoza, who sits in the south endzone, said that most of the students weren’t being overly rowdy, but she added that Event Staff at the stadium came down to monitor the student section.
Normally, student tickets are in the northeast corner of Michigan Stadium. The students in those sections often stand — usually on top of the bleachers — for the entire game.
“We understand that students stand as a part of culture, but we just want this group to please sit down,” Bodnar said. “We still want them to cheer, cheer hard, cheer loud.”
This year, the athletic department could not accommodate all of the student ticket requests in the student section because it received 21,053 requests for student tickets — about 2,000 more than last season. The athletic department entertained different ideas for where to put the excess students, but, according to Bodnar, they settled on the south endzone because they said they felt it was best for the students and the stadium atmosphere. Bodnar said that putting students close to the field was a priority for the athletic department.
“There’s just nowhere else in the stadium to put students in a block down there,” Bodnar said. “Our football program really likes their enthusiasm down at that end of the stadium. They bring a lot of intensity.”
LSA freshman Connor Brown, who said that he thinks he applied late for his tickets, said that he thought kicking people out would be “ridiculous.” According to Brown, students will not be nearly as loud if they are sitting down, but he wasn’t sure if he would remain standing.
“I’m a follower,” Brown said. “So if other people are standing I’ll do it. I’m not going to be the only guy standing like a revolutionary.”
Espinoza on the other hand agreed with the move. She said, when she got the tickets in the mail, she was surprised by the seats but was happy to see that she was sitting in row two. She also said that she would comply with the request to stay seated.
“You can see way better when everyone sits down,” Espinoza said. “I am a short person, so it helps.”
The number of student football ticket requests has fluctuated greatly during the last 10 years. In 1995, the University sold more than 14,000 tickets to students, but Michigan sold nearly 23,000 student tickets in 1999. Many other schools set caps at the number of students who can buy tickets, often cutting off younger students or grad students first or requiring students to split tickets.