How it happened: Students turned away for the first time ever at Hilton Coliseum

Cyclone fans react after Iowa State took the lead late in the game during Iowa State’s 85-82 win over Iowa Dec. 13, 2013 at Hilton Coliseum.

Alex Halsted

As the final seconds ticked off the clock at Hilton Coliseum on Friday night, students trickled onto the court.

The much-anticipated Cy-Hawk game between No. 17 Iowa State and No. 23 Iowa, just the second ever with both teams ranked, brought more hype than ever before. Students camped outside Hilton more than 24 hours in advance and took in an instant classic on the court.

Not every student who attempted to gain admission was a witness.

For the first time ever, Iowa State was forced to turn students away at the doors as the student section inside Hilton reached its capacity of 2,500 some 90 minutes after gates opened.

“Although we are disappointed that not every student in line was admitted to Hilton for the game, we also recognize this was the first time it occurred since the policy was adopted by our department and the students two years ago,” said ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard in a statement to students. “Per the policy, students who were not admitted will receive a full refund for the face value of the game ticket.”

Iowa State began overselling student tickets two years ago after the student section rarely reached 50 percent capacity for the majority of games. The student section at Hilton Coliseum has a capacity of 2,500 and Iowa State oversells that total, selling 3,500 student tickets for men’s basketball.

Other schools, including Kansas State and Kansas in the Big 12, do the same. As of 2012 Kansas State sold 6,200 combo passes, which allow students admission to football and men’s basketball games. The student capacity for men’s basketball at Kansas State is 3,900, meaning the Wildcats oversell men’s basketball student tickets by 2,300.

Iowa State felt overselling might force what happened Friday night to happen last season when the Cyclones faced No. 6 Kansas at Hilton in late February. But no students were turned away that night as around 100 students who remained outside were allowed to stand around the lower bowl.

That was the case again Friday as students filled the lower bowl. Eventually, that filled too and students were turned away.

“It’s the first time it’s happened,” said Chris Jorgensen, ISU Associate Athletic Director for Facilities, Planning and Management. “Ever since the Kansas game last year, we’ve been constantly re-evaluating how we’re going to get students in, how fast we’re going to get them in, how safely we can get them in.”

Pollard and Jorgensen both said Iowa State would again evaluate its policy as it always does.

“The good news is that student attendance during the past two years has been higher than at any time in our history,” Pollard said. “However, at the conclusion of the season, we will certainly revisit the policy with student leadership and are more than willing to make modifications if students feel the policy needs to be modified.”