Penn State football season ticket holder Jeff Loeffert said he understands why Penn State can't welcome fans inside Beaver Stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions.
What he doesn't understand, he said, is why the option to get a refund on football tickets came with what he calls a 'threat.'
"The fact of threatening you know, you might not have the option to renew your tickets next year, I'm 15 years in. I know people who have had these things in their family for 50-plus years," said Loeffert
Penn State gave season ticket holders three options after it announced fans wouldn't be able to return to Beaver Stadium: 1) convert the purchase into a tax-deductible donation 2) rollover the purchase to 2021 3) request a refund.
But, fans were also told by Penn State: "season ticket holders who request a refund will retain their season ticket holder status in the renewal process for 2021, but will not be guaranteed their 2020 seat locations and parking for the 2021 football season."
"To make a statement like that, it's just mind boggling, you know, what they were expecting the perception to be" said Loeffert who later added "the fact of it being kind of a verbal threat or a written threat of potentially losing your season tickets after, think about the amount of money that those season ticket holders have given to that University in really dark and troubling times most recently, but also over the span of half a century."
Loeffert also takes issue with the fact that none of the three options offered fans the choice to get a refund or roll over 'seating contributions.' Seating contributions are a required donation he said fans must make in order to have the right to purchase football tickets. For Loeffert, he said Penn State requires $1600 as his contribution.
"There was no option for a refund for the donation. And, what you have here is you have a product and a service that wasn't delivered and we certainly appreciate the local, state, and federal guidelines that were put in place for safety measures for fans, coaches, and players to protect everybody in this environment," said Loeffert, "but at the end of the day we were forced or required to make a donation for the rights to purchase the season tickets."
Loeffert said because he also doesn't have the option to roll over his $1600 donation, he will have to pay the same amount again next year for the right to purchase Penn State football season tickets again. That would make his total 'contribution' $3,200, he said, to attend one season of football instead of two. He noted, that is a mortgage and a car payment for middle class families like his.
"At the end of the day it is our hard earned money that we provided to the University. And, if fans and season ticket holders would like to give that money back to a donation to the University they should do that. But, most importantly we should have the option of doing that," said Loeffert. "It's our money. It's our hard earned money."
Loeffert noted that other Universities also require a seating contribution for fans. But, he calls the decision on whether or not to refund the contributions a 'moral' issue.
"Michigan a peer of Penn State in the BIG10, they've refunded their donations or their 'personal seat contributions' as they call them to their season ticket holder fanbase," said Loeffert.
In its letter to fans, Penn State wrote "charitable donations and non-charitable seat contributions are annually used to provide our student-athletes with scholarship opportunities and cannot be refunded per University policy as those scholarship allocations have been distributed for the upcoming year. We appreciate your understanding that as a Nittany Lion Club member, your annual support for our scholarships for student-athletes is the bedrock of our commitment to them."
Meantime, one season ticket holder, AJ Kessinger wrote this to FOX43 about the issue of refunding the required donation, "I think the University keeping that to allow athletes to still be funded is perfectly reasonable."
As for its overall revenues, Penn State added as well in its letter to fans, "regardless of whether we play or don't play, our revenue losses will be in the high eight figures, reaching nine figures in the case of no competition."
Read Penn State's full letter to fans here.
"We are the lifeblood of Penn State University. It's no secret. When you look at the amount of money that the football fanbase brings in from season ticket holders and ticket sales and all the other merchandise and food and beverage and parking and everything else that associates with it," said Loeffert, who said that makes him feel proud.
"But I don't understand why the donation's not there, or allowed, or the returning of the donation is not permitted for us. I really just think they're missing the mark."
FOX43 reached out to Penn State for further comment, but has not yet heard back.