Longhorn senior Jonathon Levy displays his season tickets after picking them up inside Bellmont Hall. (Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman)

Football

Texas officials email season ticket holders about investigation

Season ticket holders told that problems found 'have been fixed'

Posted December 13th, 2015

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Texas athletics officials emailed their season ticket holders on Sunday and outlined departmental changes made in response to a university auditor’s investigation into past abuses in ticket operations.

The email, triggered by the American-Statesman’s report in Sunday’s editions about the auditors’ findings, gave a basic explanation of the investigation, conducted by the university’s Office of Internal Audit.

The email, like the final report, does not name any individuals nor say whether anyone was held responsible. The Statesman reported that some of the evidence found by auditors was turned over to the Travis County district attorney for possible felony prosecution, however no charges were filed.

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UT officials cannot gauge how much money was lost over the years due to insufficient controls. Texas Longhorns football regularly generates more than $30 million per year in ticket revenue.

“We want to assure you that we are completely confident in today’s ticket and donor operations. Most importantly, we have trust in the professionalism of the people here in Texas Athletics,” the email said. UT officials bolded the words “completely confident” for emphasis.

“Our employees are dedicated and maintain the highest level of integrity,” the email continues. “Our policies and procedures are designed to mitigate potential and past issues. They include significant checks and balances, and seek to ensure transparent management of the processes and finances for ticket member and donor relations.”

Texas officials were first made aware of problems in February 2012, according to the auditor’s report. The bulk of the investigation was completed by June 2013. However the final report was not completed until Nov. 30, more than two years later. During that time, the majority of key UT administrators who were in place left the university for various reasons.

Starting in 2014, UT athletics hired new employees to make up what officials call their “Sales, Service and Retention” group. The school combined its donor and ticketing systems in a way that allows for real-time monitoring. Four ticketing operations were also merged into one.

“As always, we at Texas remain committed to ‘Winning with Integrity,’” the email to season-ticket holders stated. “The problems of a few years ago have been fixed, and we strive to continue improving our operations as we focus on serving our student-athletes, students and our fans.”

Note to readers: The following represents the complete, unedited text emailed to Texas season ticket holders on Sunday regarding the Statesman’s story about the recent UT ticket audit:

Nearly four years ago in February 2012, several Texas Athletics employees informed department leadership of suspicions related to problems in ticketing operations. That day, Texas Athletics leadership contacted the university’s Office of Internal Audits, which initiated an investigation.

The auditors recently issued a report from that investigation detailing problems surrounding finances, ticket distribution and proper oversight in our football ticketing procedures in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Texas Athletics leadership has been working since the investigation was first launched to solve those problems and implement effective controls so they are not repeated.

Today, the Austin American-Statesman published a story on the investigation and report, which the paper obtained under the state’s open records laws.

The bulk of the investigation took place over 18 months in 2012-13. Some findings were provided during the investigation to Texas Athletics, which acted on them during the 2012-13 school year. The balance of the concerns were addressed through other initiatives in 2014 and early 2015.

We want to assure you that we are completely confident in today’s ticket and donor operations. Most importantly, we have trust in the professionalism of the people here in Texas Athletics.

Our employees are dedicated and maintain the highest level of integrity. Our policies and procedures are designed to mitigate potential and past issues. They include significant checks and balances, and seek to ensure transparent management of the processes and finances for ticket member and donor relations.

Following is detail on some of the initiatives that addressed the issues:

• Evaluation of the ticket operation as a whole and the establishment of the Sales, Service and Retention (SSR) group.

• Establishment of a data warehouse to provide real-time information that both drives strategy and spotlights anomalies.

• Reorganization of what was a four-office ticket operation and establishment of a data analysis/management team.

• A now-annual detailed survey of donors and season ticket members designed to provide specific feedback about their overall experience and relationship with Texas Athletics.

• Implementation of the loyalty points program at the outset of the 2015-16 school year, designed to reward our fans for their support based clearly and transparently on their specific involvement and point level.

• Implementation of a resale policy that prohibits the secondary-market sale of any discounted or complimentary tickets.

Texas Athletics worked very closely with the multiple university departments while the investigation was being conducted and while we were implementing solutions.

If you have questions about these issues and the changes that have been implemented during the past few years, please do not hesitate to contact your personal account representative or to reach out directly to us.

As always, we at Texas remain committed to ‘Winning with Integrity.’ The problems of a few years ago have been fixed, and we strive to continue improving our operations as we focus on serving our student-athletes, students and our fans.

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