Ticketholders try to profit from Paterno memorial

Posted: January 25, 2012

WE ARE . . . reprehensible.

That's the word Penn State President Rodney Erickson used yesterday to describe the actions of those attempting to sell online the free tickets to Joe Paterno's memorial service tomorrow.

More than 10,000 free tickets were distributed in seven minutes yesterday 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. A bid was listed for $90,000, although that was not believed to be a serious bid. EBay removed the auctions from the site shortly thereafter.

"I can't tell you how reprehensible I find those kinds of actions," Erickson said at the 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, such as one that 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," Penn State grad Ariel Abramowitz tweeted.

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

For the tickets that drew the $90,000 bid, the seller changed the post 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 wrote in an email. "In accordance with the policy, eBay will not allow the sale of tickets to Joe Paterno's memorial service."

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

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

The service, "A Memorial for Joe," is scheduled for 2 p.m. tomorrow 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.

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

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 thought it was "most appropriate" for the memorial to be in the Jordan Center for "the comfort of everyone involved."

Beaver Stadium would have been able to 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 other facilities shut down.

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