With the inaugural Charlotte 49ers football season approaching, students have been buzzing about securing their chance to witness history.
For many UNC Charlotte students, missing the first-ever football game on Aug. 31 isn’t an option. Upon beginning their college years, many students joined Niner Nation Gold (NNG) because they were told it would help boost their chances of getting a seat at football games.
“I was told Niner Nation Gold would get me priority seats at football,” said Ryan Benson, UNC Charlotte student and former secretary of NNG.
“At the time, nobody knew exactly what that would mean, and they admitted that, but that is what we were told.”
Those priority seats would come from a student’s loyalty points accumulated by attending all home ticketed 49er events. The more home ticketed events a student went to, the more loyalty points the student would receive. With enough loyalty points, a student could get priority seating at home games for men’s basketball and football – or so many of them thought.
According to the Charlotte 49ers Student Ticket Distribution Policy found online, “NNG is the booster organization formed by the 49er Club for the student body and provides premium benefits to its student members.”
As Section 3.1 of the Charlotte 49ers Student Ticket Distribution Policy states, “Loyalty Points are awarded based on attendance at all home ticked 49er events.”
“The Loyalty Point system is independent of NNG, but NNG is a good way to get extra loyalty points,” explains Benson.
For some students, NNG was first introduced to them at SOAR, UNC Charlotte’s orientation program for incoming freshman and transfer students.
Chad Eberhart, a transfer student, attended SOAR on June 28, 2013. When asked what he knew about NNG, “I don’t remember anything about that.”
For others like Matt Murrow, senior and 2012 Homecoming King, he learned of NNG at SOAR in 2009.
“I first began hearing that it would be an incentive at SOAR in the summer of 2009 before my freshman year,” said Murrow.
Many students have spoken out in frustration that they were misled. Others have blamed the loyalty point controversy over lack of communication.
“I don’t really see this as an instance where NNG intentionally mislead their members to believing loyalty points would go towards football season,” said Murrow.
Benson agrees – and even understands. “I did understand that our football situation has changed significantly since we announced the start of football,” said Benson.
“When we were going to be an FCS Independent, I don’t believe anybody expected the demand to be too crazy. Now that we are in Conference USA, expectations and demand for tickets has gone through the roof.”
An email from John George, Assistant Athletic Director for Ticket Operations, said, “A decision was made a few semesters ago that all students should have the same fair and equal opportunity at getting football tickets. Therefore, the loyalty point element was removed from the football ticket distribution process, yet still remained in effect for basketball tickets.”
For students wondering if their accumulated loyalty points will roll over, have no fear. “The rollover of points from the previous year will occur the first week of class,” said George.
As far as football tickets go, no tickets have been reserved for NNG members. There are 7,500 student tickets set aside that will be distributed through a lottery system.
To sign up for NNG, go to www.ticketreturn.com/49ers and click on “Join NNG.” Follow the steps provided to complete your registration.
For any questions regarding football tickets, contact the ticket office at (704) 687-4949 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.