Entering his third season at Michigan, basketball coach Tommy Amaker continues to embrace the student body. After an anonymous gift to the basketball program, the coach announced yesterday that he would give student season ticket holders a chance to renew their tickets at no charge. Last season’s Maize Ragers have until Sept. 30 to claim their free seats.

The donor’s name and the amount of the gift have not been released.

“Our students are a critical part of our program,” Amaker said. “We cannot reach our goals without their support and spirit. We wanted to extend to our entire ‘Maize Rage’ section an opportunity to support us without any cost to them. Through this generous donation, we are thrilled to be able to do that.”

Other students can still buy season tickets. If free bleacher seats remain unclaimed after the deadline, the students who buy season tickets this year will be entered into a lottery for those spots and a refund.

Prior to his first season, Amaker moved the student section down to the floor with the construction of a new bleacher section. Following 13 years at Duke, where the “Cameron Crazies” are king, Amaker has a deep understanding for the importance of student support. Now, he is the first coach in the Big Ten to help make free basketball tickets available to the student body.

His actions have not gone unnoticed.

“We’re very grateful to the donor and to Tommy,” said Peter Lund, a Maize Rager also known as Super Fan IV. “That money could have gone toward a lot of things. The relationship between the basketball office and the student body has never been better.”

There are about 500 to 600 seats in the bleacher section. Lund estimated about 475 of those spots will be filled by returning Maize Ragers.

The basketball team will return nine players from a team that finished third-place in the conference, including Big Ten Freshman of the Year Daniel Horton and All-Big Ten third-team selection Bernard Robinson Jr. They will be joined by a stellar recruiting class, which includes Michigan’s Mr. Basketball, Dion Harris.

The 2003-04 schedule includes a visit from North Carolina State of the Atlantic Coast Conference in early December and home games against Indiana and Michigan State late in the Big Ten season.

The Wolverines have been suspended from postseason play for the upcoming season. They are waiting on word from the NCAA on their appeal of that decision.

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