NCAA football attendance continues to set records for conferences and schools
In 2012, 48,958,547 fans attended college football games at all 644 NCAA schools, including one conference topping seven million fans for the first time ever. This attendance marks the third-highest total in history and includes home games, neutral-site games and postseason contests.
With an average of 45,440 per game, the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) had 37,170,235 fans. The Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) totaled 5,967,272 fans, while Division II had 3,006,297 spectators, its third-highest total. Division III recorded 2,361,687 fans in total.
The Southeastern Conference, which has topped all FBS conferences in average attendance for the past 15 seasons, enjoyed a record-setting year. With the addition of two new schools to the league, Missouri and Texas A&M, the SEC set an all-time all-conference record of 7,478,304 fans in 2012.
Michigan’s 112,252 fans per game for six home contests (two less than the eight home games in 2011) set an all-time mark for individual schools. The Wolverines broke their own record of 112,179 set in 2011. It was the Wolverines 15th consecutive attendance title.
Three other programs also topped the 100,000 mark -- Ohio State at 105,330, Alabama at 101,722 and Texas at 100,884.
The all-time record was set in 2011 with 49,699,419 fans attending college football games.
• The SEC averaged 75,538 per game to lead all conferences. The Big Ten (70,040), Big 12 (59,004), Pac-12 (53,679) and Atlantic Coast (49,910) rounded out the top five in conference attendance.
• Three FBS and FCS conferences each set record highs for total attendance. The FBS conferences were the SEC, Pac-12 and Sun Belt. The FCS conferences were the Northeast, Missouri Valley Football and Big South.
• The Sun Belt was the only Division I conference to set a personal high for the average number of fans per game with 19,766, an increase of 574 fans per game from 2011.
• The FBS postseason featured 35 bowl games that totaled 1,722,833 spectators for an average of 49,224 fans per contest.
• As for NCAA championship tournaments, total attendance for the FCS tournament was 227,415 for a 11,969 average for 19 playoff games. The Division II tournament totaled 98,231 fans for a 4,271 average in 23 games. The Division III tournament had 56,309 total fans for a 1,816 average for 31 games.
• Michigan was the first school to average more than 100,000 a game (in 1976) and has captured the attendance title 43 times since 1949, including 37 since 1974.
• For all-game attendance -- including home, road and neutral-site games -- Alabama was tops as 1,299,659 fans watched the Crimson Tide in 14 games. Nine teams played in front of more than one million fans this season.
• Four FBS teams enjoyed increased crowds of more than 10,000 fans per game from last year. Leading the way was California, which reopened California Memorial Stadium after a 21-month renovation project. With the renovated stadium opening in September, Cal enjoyed an 18,219-person increase per game from 2011 to 2012. The Golden Bears were followed by Southern California (13,139), TCU (12,361) and UCLA (11,838).
• Appalachian State led FCS attendance for the fifth time in six years with an average of 26,358 fans per game. Other schools to average more than 20,000 fans a game were Montana (25,236), James Madison (22,783) and Old Dominion (20,037).
• Among FCS conferences, the Southwestern Athletic Conference enjoyed its 34th attendance title in 35 years. The 10 SWAC teams averaged 13,097 fans per game and totaled 654,847 spectators. The Southern (652,927 fans for an average of 12,802), the Colonial Athletic (753,589 fans for an average of 12,155) and the Missouri Valley Football (652,770 fans for an average of 11,064) were all close behind.
• In Division II, Grand Valley State captured its second consecutive attendance title by averaging 12,034 fans per game. The five other schools that averaged more than 10,000 per game were Miles (11,117), Tuskegee (10,869), Kentucky State (10,534), West Texas A&M (10,379) and Pittsburg State (10,055).
• The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference posted its 20th Division II attendance title in 21 years. SIAC teams averaged 7,429 fans per game. Next were the Lone Star with 6,077 and the Gulf South at 5,029 fans per game.
• In Division III, St. John’s (Minnesota) returned to the top spot with an average of 7,948 fans per game. In 2011, Hampden-Sydney stopped a run of 10 consecutive attendance titles by St. John’s. In 2012, the rest of the top five were Wisconsin-Whitewater (7,552), Hampden-Sydney (6,723), Wabash (4,873) and Concordia-Morehead (4,839).
• Also in Division III, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Conference won its seventh title in eight years with 3,372 fans per game. The Old Dominion Athletic Conference finished second by averaging 2,966 fans per game. Close behind the ODAC in 2012 was the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Conference at 2,943 fans per game.
|FBS Home Attendance||120||763||34,312,026||44,970||-220,598||-528|
|FBS Neutral-Site Attendance||21||1,170,818||55,753||56,871||-6,133|
|FBS Bowl Game Attendance||35||1,722,833||49,224||-42,391||-1,211|
|FBS TOTALS||120||818 *||37,170,235||45,440||-241,560||-633|
|FCS Home Attendance||122||645||5,531,181||8,575||-318,732||-466|
|FCS Neutral-Site Attendance||14||414,680||29,620||-121,880||-189|
|DIVISION I TOTALS||242||1,478||43,137,507||29,186||-681,347||-461|
|DII Home Attendance||157||830||2,852,888||3,437||31,682||-120|
|DII Neutral-Site Attendance||23||145,882||6,343||-61,332||-5,169|
|DIVISION II TOTALS||157 *||854 *||3,006,297||3,520||-29,399||-218|
|DIII Home Attendance||240||1,206||2,349,123||1,948||-60,762||-54|
|DIII Neutral-Site Attendance||3||6,537||2,179||-7,439||626|
|DIVISION III TOTALS||240||1,210||2,361,687||1,952||-65,958||-48|
|Home Attendance, Reclassifying Teams||5||27||453,056||16,780||35,832||4,509|
|NATIONAL TOTALS||644 *||3,569 *||48,958,547||13,718||-740,872||-330|
|* - Record|
|Note: San Diego State played host to a bowl game on its home field so the attendance (35,442) was included in SDSU’s home attendance and in the bowl game total. Since it is counted in both categories, an adjustment was made in the FBS totals to reflect the accurate national total.|
|Championships: The total attendance for the FCS championship was 227,415 for an 11,969 average for 19 games; the DII championship was 98,231 for a 4,271 average for 23 games; and the DIII championship was 56,309 for a 1,816 average for 31 games.|