Students at the University of Maryland waited through the wee hours of yesterday morning -- many camped outside overnight -- for 13,000 tickets to Saturday's football game against Penn State, which were gone in 90 minutes. But several thousand other students, left without tickets, complained angrily about how the school distributed them.
By afternoon, several petitions circulated the College Park campus protesting that many students won't get to see one of the most eagerly awaited games in the school's history.
By late afternoon, Athletic Director Dick Dull said the method of distribution "was so chaotic and confusing" that it will be revised before the next home game, Sept. 21 against West Virginia.
"We've met this afternoon to devise a new plan for student ticket distribution," he said, "because what happened this morning just wasn't satisfactory. We need to remedy this situation before the next time around."
He said extra seats had increased the capacity of the student section to more than 13,000. Only twice have that many students seen a game at College Park and both times safety problems arose.
Dull said there is no way to provide more student tickets for Saturday's game.
Until this season, students had only to show identification and class registration cards at the gate of Byrd Stadium on game day to be admitted. But because of the demand for tickets (season tickets are sold out) to see this year's team -- ranked No. 1 in the nation by two preseason forecasts -- the school had students pick up free tickets in advance, as they do for basketball games.
"I got shut out and I'm angry as hell," Mark Berger, a junior from Pittsburgh, said yesterday after leaving the football building, where he asked several friends on the team to help him get tickets.
"I love Maryland football. I've been pumping up this game back at home all summer, I get to Cole Field House at 6:30 this morning and the tickets were already gone.
"I want in. I'm even willing to pay for tickets. But it's ridiculous that it was handled this way."
The students were upset about the new policy, and also what they called "chaos" in the ticket line at about 6:45 a.m.
Wanda McCoy, a junior, was one of many students who said two people came out of the ticket office and started handing out tickets just before 7 o'clock. "I know one guy who got 20 tickets," she said.
"A lot of us are really angry about this. You pay your activities fee (with tuition) and you're supposed to be admitted to all events. This is ridiculous."
Many students had spent the night waiting, bringing sleeping bags to Cole Field House after midnight.
"Did you see the tennis courts (adjacent to Cole Field House)?" Maryland lineman J.D. Maarleveld asked. "It looked like Woodstock."
Lisa Burton, a student who arrived too late for a ticket, said: "This is supposed to be an academic environment. Who's got time to stay out all night waiting for tickets to a football game? One guy got 20 tickets. How did that happen?"