Texas Athletics will implement new football game day protocols to make student entry and seating safer for the upcoming Texas vs. Oklahoma State University game Saturday.
The new protocol, sent to all Big Ticket holders and available on the Texas Athletics website, states Big Ticket holders must line up, enter through Gate 31 and will be given color-coded wristbands corresponding to an assigned student section. Longhorn Foundation members and students with needs under the Americans with Disabilities Act will enter through Gate 27.
“(Texas Athletics wants) students to be wristbanded appropriately and understand where they can go, that they can leave that section to go to the restroom or get concessions items or just meet friends on the concourse and be allowed back in the section,” said Drew Martin, executive senior associate athletics director for external affairs. “When you have a mad entry like we saw against (Louisiana State University), it makes a lot of the procedures and protocols that you’re supposed to have in place not work because it’s too many people at once.”
Students and other attendees called for these changes after the Texas vs. LSU game Sept. 7. Students said on social media that people stampeded into the stadium without getting tickets scanned or bags checked, and they said they were told by events staff they could not leave student sections once they entered.
“There have been some communication issues with some of our public event staff that don’t work directly for the University,” said Jimmy Johnson, assistant vice president for campus safety. “Prior to this game, there will be another debriefing to that organization to ensure that the University’s wishes are met.”
Martin said athletics director Chris Del Conte met with the athletics events staff, Johnson, the UT Police Department, the Austin Police Department and UT Fire Prevention Services shortly after the LSU game to discuss how to create a better environment for students and staff at future games.
Some students also said there should be more events staff to handle the large influx of students. Martin said while there will be some additional staff, they will be repositioned to better control entry.
“With this corral system that they’ve got, they’re going to be able to manage that much more easily at the gate,” Martin said. “(This) should free up some other people to be at the ramp ways that lead into the sections in order to check wristbands. (This will) make sure that even before you get on the ramp to go to a portal, you have the right wristband color to go in that area.”
Government junior Esther Arriaga said finding seating was the worst part for her during the LSU game because students were filling sections in a “stampede.”
“At one point, I wasn’t even moving,” Arriaga said. “It was just people shoving me to the side. It was really bad having that many people in one area and trying to move to a different area. I would like to see more organization in regards to seating and the amount of people they let in.”