Two days after saying Iowa officials had canceled 200 tickets it had purchased for Saturday's matchup between Iowa and Illinois in Iowa City because the school was "fearful," an Illinois fan group admitted that it had lied to get the tickets at a discount.
After the Orange Krush posted a statement Wednesday that accused Iowa officials of rescinding 200 tickets for Saturday's game because it "refused to face the consequences" of the sale, a statement from the school said the group had purchased the tickets at a discount by falsely claiming it had bought them for a local chapter of the Boys & Girls Club.
On Friday, the Illinois fan group apologized and admitted that it had lied to get the tickets, verifying the school's account of the purchase and subsequent decision to cancel the tickets.
"In planning the Orange Krush road trip, we misrepresented ourselves as another active charitable organization, which exercised poor judgment," the group's statement said. "This was our mistake and for that we are truly sorry. We also should have never placed blame on the Iowa ticket office and [athletic director Gary Barta] or called them out for canceling the tickets. Protection of their home court is, and should be, their priority."
The group's Friday statement contradicted its Wednesday statement, which accused Iowa athletics of canceling its tickets because school officials were afraid the group would adversely impact its home environment at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday.
From the beginning, however, Iowa officials had countered those claims and pointed to deception in the ticketing process.
"The Iowa Athletics Department became aware of a discounted group ticket order for the Iowa-Illinois men's basketball game on behalf of an Illinois chapter of the Boys & Girls Club," Iowa said in a statement Wednesday. "In following up with that organization, it became clear this was not factual. When contacting the individual who made the original ticket order, they admitted to falsely ordering tickets under the [non-profit organization's name]. Iowa Athletics has refunded the original ticket order and donated tickets to the Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Rapids. We look forward to welcoming these kids to a sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena this Saturday."
Illinois has an 89-76 edge over Iowa in a series that began in 1908. Illinois and Iowa have split the last 10 matchups (5-5).
Iowa star Kris Murray (20.6 PPG) has helped the Hawkeyes finish 6-2 in their last eight games. And with Texas Tech transfer Terrence Shannon Jr. (17.2 PPG) leading the way, Illinois is 7-1 in its last eight games. The Orange Krush's initial statement said the group was upset because it had spent $6,000 on the trip and that it was too late to get reimbursed for a charter bus and other travel accommodations. The group announced this week that KAMS, a local bar in Champaign, had given the group $6,000 to cover the costs of the canceled trip.