About 4,900 fewer alumni applied for Ohio State football tickets for the upcoming season than last year.

About 4,900 fewer alumni applied for Ohio State football tickets for the upcoming season than last year.

Is the tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal to blame?

Alumni association and campus officials don't think so. They suspect the drop has more to do with the fact that the Buckeyes will be playing archrival Michigan in Ann Arbor than the ongoing NCAA investigation.

"It's not a large enough difference from the usual drop off when the Michigan game is away for us to be concerned," said Bill Jones, OSU's associate athletic director for external relations.

There's also no headline game in the early-season schedule. A disproportionately large chunk of alumni get tickets for early games through the lottery because students aren't yet on campus for school.

In the first two games this year, the Buckeyes will face Akron and Toledo - not exactly the likes of such marquee teams as the University of Southern California or the University of Miami that Ohio State has played early in previous years, said Jay Hansen, spokesman for the Ohio State University Alumni Association.

"It's just what we would expect to happen," Hansen said.

OSU officials also believe the poor economy has kept some people from buying tickets.

Despite all the theories, Jones said it is difficult for the university to know exactly why some people don't buy tickets any given year. The school doesn't ask.

"Could things change once the sanctions are imposed by the NCAA?" he said. "It's possible.

"Fortunately, for Ohio State football, people always want to go to games. So if there are excess tickets once everybody - alumni, students, faculty and staff, and donors - get their allotment, we shouldn't have any problems getting rid of them."

A total of 35,490 alumni applied for the football ticket lottery, 4,917 fewer than last year, Hansen said.

Of those, 35,214 alumni - 99 percent of the total applicants - won the right to buy a pair of the $150 tickets, Hansen said. The other 276 didn't get tickets because there were problems with their credit cards.

"Essentially, everyone who wanted tickets got them, which is a big deal," he said.

As many as 4,000 alumni have been shut out during high-demand years.

That hasn't been as much of a problem since the association moved to a random lottery in 2008, which upset some longtime members enough that they stopped applying for tickets.

The lottery now gives alumni with seniority and newcomers an equal change of landing a game. Before, those who had bought tickets the longest had an edge if there were more applicants than tickets. Alumni were assigned a game based on the first letter of their last name.

"We've obviously had some tumultuous years with the switch to a random lottery," Hansen said. "But I think things are starting to settle down."

Fewer than 10 alumni members out of the 5,200 who contacted the association for ticket issues said they planned to boycott OSU games because of the football scandal. A few dozen more griped about the black eye the NCAA investigation was giving the school as customer-service representatives helped them with their other issues, he said.

Mark Glasper, 54, of Powell has bought Buckeye tickets every year since graduating from Ohio State in 1979.

Glasper said he never considered stopping this year.

But he wonders whether more alumni would have passed if they had known that Tressel would be forced out as coach and quarterback Terrelle Pryor would also leave Ohio State. Alumni had to apply for lottery on May 27, three days before Tressel announced that he was leaving.

"I plan to watch the unfolding investigation very closely," Glasper said. "It may affect my future ticket buying."

epyle@dispatch.com