Penn State’s Code Blue program — which awards students with prizes for attending non-revenue sporting events — is approaching its second birthday this summer. But the incentive plan has some students raising concerns with its execution and organization.
Code Blue , created in summer 2011, is a Penn State Athletics program that encourages the attendance and awareness of Penn State varsity sports events other than football, according to Code Blue’s website. For every event a student attends, he or she will receive one or three points, based on the event, according to the website. Students receive awards based on their number of points.
For certain sports, only one game is counted per season, Athletic Marketing and Promotion intern Alexa Hetzel said. These sports include swimming, fencing, track and field, and tennis, Hetzel said.
The marketing department of Penn State Athletics runs the program, Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Communications Greg Myford said. At each game, either a student intern or athletics staff member scans students’ Penn State ID+ cards, so the students can receive their earned points, he said.
“It’s an attempt to award people for going to the least attended games,” Mat Brener, participant of Code Blue, said. “I think the program is a good idea.”
But Brener (graduate-nuclear engineering) said he noticed problems in the Code Blue program in Nov. 2011.
Over Thanksgiving break, he said he attended two volleyball games and a basketball game, and none of the games had representatives to scan the students’ Penn State ID+ cards. Around the same time, he noticed he was not receiving credit for games he did swipe in to, Brener said.
After these incidents, Brener noticed Code Blue representatives were not at every game to swipe people’s cards, Brener said. But Hetzel said via email that for every major sport event, there is a Code Blue representative present.
Yet, Brener also said the program has missed major games, such as the men’s basketball Coaches vs. Cancer game.
“It is possible that someone wasn’t there, but I would be very surprised,” Myford said.
Myford said it is likely that the Code Blue participants could not find the Code Blue representative.
Code Blue Participant Darnell Brady said he noticed at some basketball games, the Code Blue table that participants swipe in at are sometimes set up late. Brady (junior-telecommunications) said whenever he looks for the representatives, he finds them, but they are not in obvious places.
Yet, another participant of Code Blue, Megan Flood, said she noticed a couple of games where Code Blue representatives were not present, noting an occurrence when two sporting events were taking place at the same time. But because the program is new, she said she expects Code Blue does not always have enough manpower or scanning systems to cover multiple events at the same time, Flood (sophomore-broadcast journalism) said.
Flood, who won football tickets last year, joined the program because she loves going to sporting events and was excited about possibly winning football tickets.
Chris Holmes, who also won football tickets last year, said he noticed a number of events where Code Blue representatives did not attend. Although the events were not huge games, the representatives were supposed to be there, Holmes (senior-undergraduate) said.
Another problem that Brener noticed was that the points on Code Blue’s public spreadsheet do not match up with his calculations, he said. Last year’s spreadsheet was “completely inaccurate when they posted it,” Brener said.
The technology used to count points is not automatic; therefore, it has to be put in the system manually, Myford said. This results in “playing catch up,” but it will be updated, Myford said.
The Code Blue points are “supposed to be tallied every Tuesday,” Hetzel said via email.
Flood said she has not checked the public spreadsheet for a few weeks, but she said it is always eventually updated.
But after multiple occasions of the points being off, Holmes said last year he had to email Code Blue to correct his points listed on the spreadsheet. Additionally, he did not receive other prizes that were promised to him, he said.
And other students also said they noticed a lag in points. Although he has yet to check his points this year, Brady said last year there were issues with the points being off.
“It’s a brand new [program.] It just needs to be fine-tuned,” he said.
Brener exchanged numerous emails with various people involved in the athletic department, including Myford.
These emails dated from November 2011, January 2012, June 2012, and December 2012. The responses expressed regret for the issues, but the department — according to Brener — did not fix them. He also emailed the Code Blue contact displayed on its website, but the program failed to respond, he said.
Myford said he received two emails from one student with concerns for the program over the course of four or five months and promptly responded that he would look into it.
“It’s not about the awards I am concerned [with]; it’s just they can’t seem to count straight,” Brener said.
His concern is about the “integrity” of the department and keeping the program honest, he said.