CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Public records show that the University of Illinois athletic department’s program for fans to anonymously text reports of incidents at football and basketball games isn’t used frequently.
Only 73 texts were sent to the system between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016, The (Champaign) News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2bZK28K) reported. Four of the messages were complaints about the same unruly Illinois fan during a football game against Nebraska last fall, while most of the others were tests of the system or accidentally sent.
Holly Stalcup, the university’s assistant athletic director for event management who oversees the program, said the technology hasn’t really taken off but has been useful in a number of incidents.
“We’re just not able to advertise it that well,” Stalcup said. “We currently only get out the number through reads and PAs at games. Our patrons may not always remember the number if they have an emergency and need to send something.”
Stalcup said no messages were received during the 2015-16 basketball season, adding that tailgating and the length of football games make disturbances more likely in that sport.
She said the technology costs about $2,000 a year.
The University of Iowa, which uses the same technology, also doesn’t receive many messages on football game days, said Paula Jantz, who is in charge of operations at Iowa games.
“We average between two to five texts per game,” Jantz said. “We are increasing our promotion of the service so we may see an increase in the number during this season.”