PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) University of Oregon athletic director Bill Byrne says he is surprised that Independence Bowl officials deny that a bidding battle had a role in Oregon's first bowl invitation in 26 years.
Byrne said he outbid the University of Kentucky by agreeing to buy 14,000 spectator tickets at $25 apiece for a total of $350,000 to get Oregon an invitation to play Tulsa in the Dec. 16 bowl at Shreveport, La. Bowl officials and Kentucky athletic director C.M. Newton denied Byrne's story Wednesday.
"From the very beginning, I made it clear that the University of Kentucky would not buy itself into a bowl game . . . As far as a guaranteed number of tickets that UK would purchase, that was never specified by us," Newton said in a statement released by the Kentucky sports information office.
"That comes a real surprise to me," Byrne told The Oregonian from San Francisco, where he was attending Pacific-10 Conference meetings.
"What I said was absolutely accurate."
Byrne said he negotiated for the invitation with Brant Goyne, a Shreveport dentist who is a member of the Independence Bowl Committee.
Kentucky "came in with an offer to buy 12,000 tickets, and we had to match," Byrne said. "Then Kentucky came back with 14,000. I gulped at that, but then I thought you amortize 2,000 tickets over our 26 years of not going to a bowl game, and I'm not going to let 2,000 tickets stand in the way."