The Indiana Supreme Court decided unanimously Thursday that the NCAA’s ticket-distribution plan for the Men’s Final Four doesn’t constitute a “lottery” under state law.
The case came before the justices as certified questions from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court noted that the process "...appears to be a reasonable method of addressing a difficult problem, and it seems to distribute tickets in a more fair and civilized manner than a first-come-first-served process."
The Association was being sued by plaintiffs who were unsuccessful in purchasing tickets to the 2009 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Detroit.
“We are very pleased with the opinion issued by the Indiana Supreme Court,” said NCAA Director of Public and Media Relations Erik Christianson. “We have long maintained that our fans have access to NCAA championship tickets in a manner that is fair and legal, and with this opinion, we believe the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals should dismiss this case.”
Buyers hoping to attend the event submitted offers to the NCAA to purchase tickets. The process included a nonrefundable handling fee of $6 per ticket. Up to 10 offers could be submitted, and the purchase price of the tickets was refunded if buyers weren’t chosen.
The plaintiffs argued the system constitutes a lottery under Indiana law. U.S. District Judge William Lawrence of the Southern District of Indiana dismissed the suit, but the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his decision. Later, the same panel of 7th Circuit judges vacated its prior decision and asked the Indiana justices to consider three certified questions. The only question relevant to Thursday’s decision is whether the NCAA’s method of allocating tickets is considered a lottery under state law.