Alabama Athletics: Booster Files Ethics Complaint Over Tide Pride Program


Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

A University of Alabama booster has said that he filed an ethics complaint with the state ethics commission Friday against state public officials, reports. The booster, 76-year-old Fred Palmer, brings into question the method state lawmakers use to buy football tickets while circumventing the Tide Pride program.

Tide Pride is the University’s athletics booster and donation program for which all football season tickets are given out, except those tickets given out to students, faculty and staff.

Palmer, who says he’s an original member of Tide Pride, argues that state lawmakers are basically getting a free pass into the booster program and end up paying less to obtain football tickets. “The legislators work for us,” Palmer said. “They’re no better than we are. There are 28,000 people on a waiting list who can’t join Tide Pride unless they pay $25,000 per seat to jump the line, and 100 legislators get the tickets.”

The Alabama Ethics Commission, meanwhile, has neither confirmed nor denied the complaint. But the director of the ethics commission, Jim Sumner, says the decision is not theirs to make.

"“It’s not an ethics issue. The commission couldn’t do anything even if they wanted to. This is an issue for the universities to determine. If they want public officials to purchase tickets outside the booster program, that is not an issue for the commission.”"

University of Alabama president Judy Bonner was contacted by Palmer, who replied to his inquiries stating that “based on our (UA’s) understanding of the state ethics laws, we believe that we are in compliance with those laws.”

The article from points out that 40 out of the 58 public officials that bought a ticket to the 2012 Discover BCS National Championship game were not season ticket holders, and 105 officials bought season tickets last year. Some of those officials did not make any additional donation to obtain the tickets, something that is required to join the booster program.

Palmer does have some motivation behind this complaint. He says he pays over $4,000 for two club-level seats and was able to get SEC and BCS tickets, but his son could not get postseason tickets after paying $1,500 each for four seats.

“It used to be that a father could take a son to a football game,” Palmer said. “It’s gotten to the point where you can’t do that. Yet people who haven’t paid a penny into Tide Pride can?”

Although it does seem unfair that Alabama state lawmakers get an opportunity many of their constituents (aka their voters) don’t, the Alabama Ethics Commission is right. Universities retain the right to sell their property – in this case the seating in their stadium – in whichever manner they choose. But it does bring up a good point; why doesn’t the athletics department require lawmakers to make a donation to get those tickets when it could mean more money?

Are any of you HammerHeads on the tide Pride waiting list, and if so how long have you been on? Do you think allowing public officials to skip ahead in line is fair?

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