NCAA men’s basketball saw a slight bump in overall attendance for the 2014-15 season as 32,510,647 fans came to watch student-athletes in Divisions I, II and III.
Compared to last year, 480 more fans attended games, making this past season the eighth highest attendance in NCAA history. The record of 33,396,316 fans in a single season was set in 2007-08.
In Division I, attendance totaled 27,422,615 for the year. Although it was down slightly from a season ago, the attendance is the ninth highest total in history. However, the NCAA tournament total attendance increased. The tournament earned its third-highest attendance in history with 739,798 fans. The record-setting total of 800,377 came in 2012-13.
With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten Conference led the way among conferences with a home and conference tournament total of 3,195,137, the second-highest total number of any conference in history. The all-time record of 3,259,992 was set by the 16-team Big East Conference in 2006-07.
Syracuse slightly edged Kentucky for the home attendance title for the second year in a row, as the Orange averaged 23,854 while the Wildcats brought in 23,572 a game. Kentucky led the nation the previous eight seasons. Louisville was third with 21,386 per game. North Carolina was fourth with 19,582; and Wisconsin finished in the top five with 17,279.
“NCAA college basketball attendance remains remarkably consistent across the country and all three NCAA divisions, as fans and alumni support their favorite teams from the largest arenas to the smallest gyms,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA vice president for men’s basketball championships. “NCAA Division I games were attended by over 27 million fans for the ninth consecutive year, and March Madness was experienced by the third highest fan attendance in history for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.”
Other attendance highlights include:
• Kentucky led the nation in total home attendance with 447,874 fans at its games this season at Rupp Arena. The other two schools to reach at least 400,000 were Syracuse (429,378) and Louisville (406,338).
A total of 41 schools averaged more than 10,000 fans per game, including 11 from the Big Ten.
• The Big Ten also led all conferences in average attendance with 12,781 fans, ahead of the Atlantic Coast Conference (11,368), Southeastern Conference (10,819), Big 12 Conference (10,181) and Big East Conference (9,853). It marks the 39th consecutive season the Big Ten has led the nation in average attendance.
• There were 24 schools that had an increase of more than 1,000 fans from the 2013-14 season, led by North Carolina State, which saw attendance increase by 2,795 fans a game from 12,641 in 2013-14 to 15,436 in 2014-15.
• Kentucky led the nation in overall attendance as 845,594 fans saw the Wildcats play at home, on the road and in neutral sites. Wisconsin was second with 711,115 and Duke placed third with 664,146.
• Division II attendance was up 37,373 fans from a season ago with a total of 2,785,383, the most since 2011-12.
• For the eighth consecutive year, Northern State led Division II in attendance with 3,402 fans per game. Augustana (S.D.) was second (2,697), Fort Hays State was third (2,656), Central Missouri fourth (2,647) and fifth place went to Dixie State (2,607).
• For Division II conferences, the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association had the highest home attendance average for the sixth consecutive year with an average of 1,514. The Lone Star Conference (1,169) also averaged more than 1,000 fans per game.
• For the 13th consecutive year, Hope led Division III in attendance with an average of 2,331. Wooster was second (1,620), Augustana (Ill.) (1,460) was third, Calvin came in fourth (1,455), while Wisconsin-Stevens Point rounded out the top five (1,437).
• Among Division III conferences, the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association reclaimed the top spot with an average of 806. The conference led Division III in attendance for 22 consecutive years prior to being knocked off by the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin a season ago.