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Big Ten breaks own record for men’s basketball attendance

Numbers for the 2013-14 season also show attendance at the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship was slightly lower than last year, but still the third-highest overall

The Big Ten Conference broke its own all-conference men’s basketball attendance record by averaging 13,534 fans per game during the 2013-14 regular season as the conference led the nation in attendance for the 38th consecutive year.

The previous record was set by the Big Ten when the league drew an average of 13,449 fans to its games in 1990.

Overall in 2013-14, men’s basketball attendance totaled 32,510,167 for all three NCAA divisions combined. That number represents a 1 percent decrease from the 2012-13 season but still ranks in the top 10 attendance figures of all time, at seventh. The record of 33,396,316 was set in the 2007-08 season.

The Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tournament drew 739,189 spectators for an average of 20,533 fans per session over 36 sessions. That total is third all-time in the history of the tournament. The record of 800,377 was set in 2013.

Additionally, the 2014 Men’s Final Four set the all-time mark for total attendance for both sessions combined, with 158,682 people attending the event at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. An NCAA-record crowd of 79,444 attended the semifinals on April 5.

“It was another robust season of attendance at college basketball games,” said NCAA Vice President for Men’s Basketball Championships Dan Gavitt. “It’s been an exciting decade as this marks the eighth consecutive year that over 32 million fans have experienced men’s basketball games live. The Big Ten Conference continues to be a strong national leader, and the NCAA Men’s Final Four enjoyed a record-setting crowd at AT&T Stadium in North Texas.”

Other men’s basketball attendance highlights from the 2013-14 season include:

  • Division I attendance in 2014 ranked eighth all-time at 27,519,856. The record was set in 2008 at 28,135,901. Division II totaled 2,748,010 fans, and Division III drew 1,945,713.
  • Division I neutral-site games that were not NCAA tournament games added a record 251 sessions to the Division I totals as 1,720,243 fans went through the turnstiles at neutral sites.
  • With no change from last season in the number of Division I schools, 345 teams averaged 5,014 fans in a record 5,489 games, or sessions, this season.
  • After the Big Ten, the Atlantic Coast (10,661), Big 12 (10,489), the Southeastern (10,353) and Big East (9,711) rounded out the top five conferences in attendance average per game.
  • As the national winner on the court in both men’s and women’s basketball this season, the new American Athletic Conference finished sixth in men’s attendance, averaging 8,776 fans a game for a total of 1,588,435 for the season.
  • Three conferences drew more than 2 million fans each: Big Ten (2,896,322), Atlantic Coast (2,846,379) and Southeastern (2,629,593). Also, six of the 32 Division I conferences set a league best for total attendance: the Atlantic Coast (previous best was in 2007), American (first season), Mountain West (2013), Pac-12 (2013), Mid-Eastern (2012) and Big South (2013).
  • For the first time since 2005, Syracuse returned to the top spot to lead the nation in home attendance average at 26,253. This is the 13th time Syracuse has taken the attendance title including 11 straight from 1985 to 1995. Kentucky, which led the nation 17 of the last 18 previous seasons, finished second this year at 22,964. Louisville was the only other school to average more than 20,000 a game, with the Cardinals averaging 21,282 per game.
  • Six schools totaled more than 300,000 fans for their home games: Syracuse (472,550 in 18 games), Kentucky (413,350 in 18), Louisville (383,070 in 18), Ohio State (329,481 in 20), North Carolina (324,458 in 18), and Indiana (312,453 in 18).
  • For all-game attendance – including home, road and neutral-site games – Kentucky broke the record it set in 2012, with 922,653 fans watching the Wildcats in person at its 40 games. The former record by the Wildcats was 885,953 fans. Thirteen teams played in front of more than 500,000 fans in 2014.
  • Five Division I teams this season enjoyed increases of more than 2,000 fans per game as compared to the previous season. Leading the way was Nebraska with a 5,067-person increase per game, which was the biggest increase for a school in seven years. The Cornhuskers were 15-1 at home in their new 15,000-seat facility, Pinnacle Bank Arena. The other schools that enjoyed the 2,000-plus fan increase per game were Syracuse (3,813), Virginia (2,281), SMU (2,210) and FGCU (2,050).
  • The Division II tournament totaled 46,036 fans for an average of 1,279 over 36 sessions. The Division III tournament had 43,095 fans for an average of 1,268 in 34 sessions.
  • In Division II, Northern State captured the attendance title for the seventh straight season, averaging 3,383 fans per game. Next was Dixie State (3,081), followed by Fort Hays State (2,717), Augustana (South Dakota) (2,644), and Midwestern State (2,349).
  • In Division III, Hope ran away with its 12th straight attendance title by averaging 2,459 attendees per game. The rest of the top five were Wooster (1,801), Wisconsin-Stevens Point (1,754), Illinois Wesleyan (1,333), and Brockport (1,304).
  • For Division II conferences, the 14 teams of the Mid-America Intercollegiate helped the conference record its sixth straight attendance title by averaging 1,319 fans per game. The Northern Sun was runner-up at 1,228 fans per game. In Division III, the eight teams of the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin edged the Michigan Intercollegiate to end its streak of 22 consecutive conference attendance bests. The CCIW averaged 744 fans a game to the MIAA’s 702.