UT-Austin students report getting kicked out of student section during first football game

Kaushiki Roy, News Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 19 flipbook. 

At UT’s first football game on Sept. 4, some students said ushers and security guards asked them to leave the student section and denied others access to their seats while the stadium dealt with severe staffing shortages. 

The Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, where UT holds home football games, can seat over 100,000 people. Over 91,000 people came to the first home football game, John Bianco, senior associate athletics director for communications said in an email. While Bianco said the game operations staff is not aware of any students being kicked out of the student section, The Daily Texan confirmed with six students about seating difficulties. 

According to Chris Del Conte, vice president and athletics director, almost 500 part-time staff members did not arrive Saturday morning. Missing staff included concession workers, security and event staff, Del Conte said. Bianco did not respond to questions regarding staffing issues.

Business freshman Carlos Ayon said event staff asked him and his four friends to leave their seats in the student section after another couple showed them their reserved tickets. Ayon said he was confused because their usher told them previously the seats they chose were not reserved. 

Ayon said he and his friends then moved to another section where security guards asked over 100 people to leave the area in the first quarter. He said the whole process felt hectic and tiring, especially due to the extreme heat during the event.

“They just told us we couldn’t be there, and one of my friends asked him (where) the student section was,” Ayon said, “The guard just replied, ‘oh it’s not my problem,’ and when we asked where we could go, he told us, ‘oh you should have figured that out before’, so we just left.”

After being asked to leave their spots a second time, Ayon said he and his friends left the game altogether. 

“This was my first football game,” Ayon said. “Hopefully they’ll fix it in the future, but I’m never going to get the first UT football experience back without even being able to watch the first quarter.”

Similarly, civil engineering sophomore Donovan Meade said he could not get back to his seat after leaving to get water for himself and his friends before kickoff. Meade said a staff member would not allow him and several others to return to their seats. 

“I was pretty angry,” Meade said. “I just want to watch some football.”

Meade said he and others eventually bypassed the staffer but said other security guards were turning back students. He said he wishes the staff would be more clear on directing students to their sections. 

“They definitely had empty seats in other parts of the stadium,” Meade said. “I feel like the student section could be expanded or at least direct students properly, because if we were to be turned away, it wasn’t clear where we would go instead.”