DURHAM, N.C. -- They had been here for a while, some for nearly two months. They had turned the grounds around Cameron Indoor Stadium into a yuppified tent city, an L.L. Bean catalog come to life.
Camping out in line for basketball tickets has been in vogue at Duke for several years now. But nothing compares to what had happened this season. And, as a result, the tradition might end with last night's final home game against Maryland.
"We appreciate their support, but I think we have to do something about them waiting so long," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said earlier this season. "I don't want to ruin a good thing. Being out there too long might not be the right approach. I want it to be a good experience."
A university spokesman said yesterday that there were only a couple of tents left for last Sunday's game against UCLA, and none for the Terps.
That is down from as many as 150 tents at the height of this waiting game. Then again, if some in the administration get their way, things could change drastically by the time next season rolls around.
"I certainly don't remember them camping out this far in advance [a month prior to the Carolina game]," said Dr. Sue Wasiolek, the dean for student life at Duke. "I'm also not sure it's out of necessity. It's become a social event. It's an excuse. I don't know if there will be any official administrative response in the future, but I know there are administrators who are questioning the practice."
Fellow students think those who have waited for so long have carried this tradition a little too far. Those at the back of the line usually don't arrive until 2 1/2 hours, not 2 1/2 weeks, before the doors open to the free, unticketed student seats.
Some parents have complained. Wasiolek said that she got a few telephone calls from concerned parents of first-year students after their kids had camped out for a week before the Michigan game Dec. 5.