"This is not fixing something that didn't work. It's about maximizing what we began two years ago," associate athletic director Greg Myford said. He called the program a success because of the promise of increased revenue at a time of increasing budget pressures, while also "leveling the playing field for how tickets are allocated."
The athletic department is self-supporting and does not draw on tuition dollars to pay for the school's 31 varsity teams. Athletic officials spoke of looming budget pressures three years ago as they put the finishing touches on the changes - long before the NCAA slammed Penn State in July with strict sanctions, including a $60 million fine, for the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.
Donations are used to help pay for other sports, and won't be used to pay the fine, athletic officials said.
Average attendance through the season's first three games is still a relatively robust 96,500.
Starting in 2013, about 6,000 seats will fall under a new donation level of $200 per seat, down from $400. The giving levels for another 5,500 seats will drop from $600 to $400. All seats are in upper sections of the stadium between the goal lines.
Syracuse 14, Pittsburgh 13 - Adonis Ameen-Moore scored on a 1-yard run, Dyshawn Davis returned a fumble 52 yards for another score, and the host Orange (2-3, 1-0 Big East) broke out of a yearlong funk with a victory over the Panthers (2-3, 0-2).
Syracuse had not beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision team since last October, losing eight straight.
This was the teams' last meeting as members of the Big East. Both will join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, and they will continue to play each other each year.
Thursday's late game
Southern California 38, Utah 28 - Matt Barkley passed for 303 yards and three touchdowns, including an 83-yarder to Marqise Lee in the fourth quarter, and No. 13 USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) came back from a big deficit to beat host Utah (2-3, 0-2) on Thursday night.
Utah led by 14-0 less than three minutes in thanks to two early turnovers. But the Trojans turned the tables in the fourth, scoring twice in a span of less than three minutes.