- Associated Press - Friday, June 6, 2014

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A prime section of seats for Kansas men’s basketball games at Allen Fieldhouse will be offered to donors rather than students who traditionally sat there, the athletics department said.

The 120 seats in Section U, which are just beyond the baseline, at floor level, near the tunnel where the Jayhawks enter the Fieldhouse, has been part of the university’s student section for years. Beginning next season, the seats will be offered to Williams Education Fund donors instead, the university announced Thursday.

The move is in response to a student government-led effort to lower the students’ athletic fee. The student government wanted to eliminate the $25 per student per semester fee but a compromise reduced it to $7 per semester, which will cost the athletic department nearly $350,000 annually, said Jim Marchiony, athletics department spokesman.

“During this process, the student government made it clear to us that they wanted us to find other sources of revenue other than the student athletic fee, and that is what we’ve done,” Marchiony said Thursday. “We don’t expect this change to make up the entire difference, but we think it’ll be a good start toward trying make up the loss of revenue.”

The change will not reduce the total number of seats offered to students during the games, he said. A new student-only section most likely will be in a current general admission area and will not be in the extreme corners of the Fieldhouse, he said.

“We have the best student fans in the country, and we will make sure that every one of them that wants to attend will get in,” he said.

Section U will provide a new opportunity for donors to get good seats. Other seats in the Fieldhouse are awarded based on points for how much a donor has given over time, but section U will be available to donors based only on their current giving, meaning a large donation would give a new donor a chance for a prime seat.

“The other way (to make the money up) that is still ongoing and will always be ongoing is just fund-raising - just going out there and soliciting funds from donors,” Marchiony said. “We’re going to continue to do that, but this was certainly a way that we could provide some donors with access to a section that they may have not had access to.”

Marchiony also announced Thursday that a season-ticket combo package available to students, which gives each student one ticket to every men’s basketball and football home game, also will cost more. Students who order the package before the school year will pay the current price of $150 but the price will increase to $175 after the school year begins.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com