The Ivy League Tournament had a difficult time selling out the 8,722-seat Palestra in its first two years, so a move to the 2,800-seat John J. Lee Amphitheater seemed to ensure an overflow crowd for 2019. Unfortunately, the arena was not filled to capacity for its recent edition, and many seats were left empty during the opening Harvard-Penn semifinal.
To ensure sellouts as the tournament goes forward, the Ivy League has looked to its embattled undergraduate admissions departments to help solve the problem.
While the Penn and Yale admissions departments were allegedly duped by former coaches into accepting fraudulent student-athletes, all of the schools continue to excel at getting large number of applicants to apply to their overpriced schools. Even with $70,000+ yearly bills, $75 application fees and acceptance rates hovering between 4.5 and 7.9 percent (OK, really 10.6 percent – thank a lot, Cornell!), tens of thousands of students that have no hope of gaining admission continue to submit their applications.
Why do they do it?
“I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I desperately wanted to be part of something so exclusive,” said Cornell alum Andy Bernard. “If so few people get in and its super expensive, it must be the best. Right?”
The Ancient Eight agrees with you, Mr. Bernard. As a result, next year’s Ivy Tournament will have a change in its ticketing policy.
This year’s event, which cost $95 for all day Saturday, $75 for two Sunday championship games or $155 for all sessions, will now go to $500 for Saturday’s semifinals, $400 for Sunday’s finals and $750 for the entire Tournament. In addition, all prospective ticket buyers will need to submit an online application.
Similar to high school seniors, Ivy basketball fans will have to create an account through the Common App. They will then have to submit a resume of their basketball going experiences, financial records, a 500-word essay and two letters of recommendations. If an applicant passes an initial review, representatives of the league or its member schools will then reach out for an interview.
While students with financial need can get waivers for their college applications, there will be no such discount for the Ivy Tournament.
“Thank goodness we don’t have to deal with things like need and diversity with this event,” said Yale Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan. “We can just be open about doing things in a old school Ivy way, like looking at bank accounts, family connections and big dollar tax-deductible donations.”
League officials hope for a more committed and passionate fan base going forward.
“Going through a rigorous application process will show league stakeholders that a person is really committed to Ivy basketball and not just a local fan looking to kill two hours on a weekend,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris told IHO.
“After our recent problems, we have new protocols that will help us weed out liars and find the true Ivy hoops fan,” echoed Penn Dean of Admissions Eric Furda. “We feel very confident that we can duplicate the undergraduate model of irrational panic and superior elitism to quickly fill a 1,600-seat gym at Harvard next year. After that, we go into overdrive and institute an Early Decision round for Jadwin in 2021.”