Penn State outraged at Paterno memorial tix on eBay

Posted: January 24, 2012

More than 10,000 free tickets for Joe Paterno's memorial service on Thursday were distributed within minutes Wednesday because of the "overwhelming demand," Penn State officials said.

Tickets started to show up on eBay by midday, with a pair selling for $400 and another for $500. Yet another set had been bid up to $90,000, although that was not believed to be a serious offer. eBay removed the auctions from the site shortly thereafter.

Penn State president Rodney Erickson lashed out at those attempting to sell the tickets.

"I can't tell you how reprehensible I find those kinds of actions," Erickson said at today's Faculty Senate meeting. "We have tried to do everything within our power to stop that, but there are certain legal limitations on what we are allowed to do."

Erickson's outrage was matched by Penn State alums who thought the selling of tickets was disrespectful. A Twitter hashtag of #eBaywatch was created to find any tickets being offered and get them removed, including the clever sort who tried to sell a T-shirt with the tickets included for $99. That too was removed.

"Another one bites the dust! #EbayWatch. Who are these amateurs who think they can mess with Penn State," tweeted Ariel Abramowitz.

However, some suggested the free market system should be at work, given the limited supply, including one of the sellers.

For the tickets that drew the $90,000 bid, the seller changed the posted to include this message: "To those opposing this auction: no one is forcing you to buy tickets; it is a choice. And yes, there are much worse ways to make a dollar, judge not lest ye be judged. You do not know my situation. Thank-you."

The auction site has a policy about reselling items that are free to the general public.

"eBay's event ticket resale policy does not allow the sale of tickets to events in which all tickets are free to the public," spokeswoman Amanda Coffee said in an e-mail. "In accordance with the policy, eBay will not allow the sale of tickets to Joe Paterno's memorial service."

Coffee said she was unaware how many tickets were attempted to be sold.

At least two pairs of tickets showed up on Craigslist but were flagged and removed. Some people have posted "wanted" listings in search of tickets.

Erickson urged anyone who profits from the sale to look "deeply within their hearts" and donate the money to the two charities that the Paterno family has named for contributions.

The service, "A Memorial for Joe" is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center with doors opening at 1. The service will be aired live on the Big Ten Network and its website, btn.com, as well as Penn State's athletics website, gopsusports.com.

The Jordan Center seats more than 15,000. Current and former players are among those invited and do not require tickets.

Erickson said the Paterno family felt it was "most appropriate" for the memorial to be in Jordan Center for "the comfort of everyone involved."

Beaver Stadium would have been able accommodate more people, but spokesman Jeff Nelson said the stadium was not a "viable option" because it has been winterized with no running water and facilities that have been shut down.


Contact the Online News Desk at 215-854-2443 or online@phillynews.com

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