IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa is hoping that its students start buying as many football tickets as they used to.

But the Hawkeyes are planning for the possibility that they won't.

Athletic director Gary Barta said Friday that Iowa will make any unsold student tickets available to the general public as well on Aug. 1. The move comes on the heels of a dip in student tickets sales, from 10,000 two years ago to roughly 7,300 in 2013.

Barta said the Hawkeyes have yet to reach 7,000 student tickets sold for next season, which means that as many as 3,000 spots could soon be up for grabs.

"I would prefer always having those 10,000 seats filled with students. And we're not at all giving up on that yet this year," Barta said in a discussion with reporters. "I just can't sit here like we did last year hoping the students will fill them and then having those empty seats."

Barta isn't the only athletic director dealing with lagging student ticket sales. But what's unique about Iowa is that the expectations for the Hawkeyes are so much higher than they were a year ago.

Iowa bottomed out at 4-8 in 2012, and Barta said that a poor season combined with a reseating of Kinnick Stadium led to sluggish sales. But the Hawkeyes bounced back with an eight-win season last year, and they enter 2014 as one of the favorites in the Big Ten West.

Barta said that club and suite ticket sales remain strong, as have public and faculty/staff tickets. But the dip in student ticket sales left Iowa without a sellout in 2013 — and seats are available for every home game this fall.

The Hawkeyes had sold out 62 of 65 home games in the 11 seasons prior to 2013.

"This isn't just happening at Iowa. But I'm only concerned about why it's happening at Iowa," Barta said.

The Hawkeyes polled students in the offseason in an effort to figure out why many of them suddenly stopped coming to home games. Barta said the response officials heard most from students was that attending games is a social event and that they stopped buying tickets because their friends did, a trend that Barta said has "snowballed" of late.

The Hawkeyes plan to lure the students back with a host of promotional events, though Barta didn't mention specifics.

"Priority No. 1 is to get the students back," Barta said.