The National Wrestling Media Association has released its annual NCAA Division I wrestling home dual meet attendance report for the 2022-23 season and for the 16th-straight season, the University of Iowa is the nation’s top home draw.
Iowa, Penn State, Iowa State, Rutgers and Oklahoma State were the top five home draws this season.
The Hawkeyes drew an average of 14,858 fans per home date in 2022-23 and saw a record total of 118,870 fans come through the doors at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa's overall total is the highest total attendance number since Division I attendance records started being recorded in 2002. The previous high season total was Iowa’s 97,325 in the 2015-16 season, which included the NCAA-record 42,287 at Kinnick Stadium. The 14,858 is the second-highest average attendance in college wrestling history, second only to the Hawkeyes’ average last season.
The Hawkeyes drew capacity crowds of 14,905 in six of their eight home dates.
Penn State was second for the 12th-straight season drawing an average of 9,225 fans. Two of the Nittany Lions home duals were at the Bryce Jordan Center. Those two duals drew nearly 16,000 fans. According to Penn State Athletic Communications, the Nittany Lions have sold out 66-straight duals in Rec Hall and 75 of the last 77 home events. Penn State’s 15,998 against Iowa on January 27 is tied for the third-largest dual meet crowd in college wrestling history and ties the indoor mark, also set by Penn State against Iowa, on Feb. 10, 2018.
Iowa State averaged 5,287 fans with six home dates. The Cyclones are third in attendance for the second time in three seasons and have been in the top seven since 2002, the first year attendance was tracked. Rutgers is in the top six for the eighth straight season and is fourth for the third time since 2018. Oklahoma State is fifth and has been in the top 10 each year since 2002, never falling lower than seventh. Ohio State has been consistently in the top six since 2012 and ranks sixth for the second-straight year. Virginia Tech reached a program high of seventh. The Hokies were 10th a year ago and have been ranked in the top 10 six times. Northern Iowa might have lost some of the mystique by moving full-time into the McLeod Center from its iconic West Gym, but it did allow the Panthers to rank eighth in attendance, a program high. It’s also the first time since 2017 the Panthers have ranked in the Top 10. Minnesota was ninth, keeping the Gophers streak alive of Top 10 draws. Michigan ranked 10th, the fourth time in the last five years the Wolverines have broken the Top 10.
Several schools saw high attendance marks during combined events with women’s gymnastics. Often dubbed “Beauty and the Beast,” Iowa State, Arizona State, Northern Illinois and Kent State saw their highest home attendance in the combined events.
Iowa was the top road draw as six schools — Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Army West Point, Chattanooga and Purdue – saw its high crowds come against the visiting Hawkeyes. Penn State was the top road draw at Rutgers, Ohio State, Indiana and Rider. Oklahoma State was also a solid road draw as the Cowboys were the top drawing team for Iowa (tied), Oregon State, Oklahoma and Bucknell.
For the first time in 15 years, Cal Poly was represented. The Mustangs ranked 22nd in attendance averaging 1,124 fans. Cal Poly averaged 750 fans per dual last season.
This season marks the first time at least 25 schools broke an average of 1,000 fans per dual. There were 140 single duals that drew over 1,000 fans, up from 117 from last year. Fifteen schools drew over 1,000 fans for each of their home duals this season, up from 12 last year.
Forty schools in 2022-23 drew crowds of at least 1,000 fans, which is up from 2021-22, where 33 schools reported at least one home dual event drawing over 1,000. In 2019-20, 44 schools reported crowds over 1,000.
|3||Iowa State||5287.43||37012||7||7||Illinois (B&B)||8757|
|6||Ohio State||3849.71||26948||7||7||Penn State||4585|
|8||Northern Iowa||2812.50||16875||6||6||Iowa State||5754|
|14||Arizona State||2150.40||10752||5||4||Cal Poly (B&B)||3645|
|16||Oregon State||2080.00||12480||6||3||Oklahoma State||6764|
|17||Army West Point||1887.00||3774||2||2||Iowa||1903|
|24||South Dakota State||1193.00||8351||7||4||Minnesota||1603|
|25||Utah Valley||1053.25||4213||4||2||Northern Colorado||1194|
|26||Cornell||985.00||3940||4||0||Wisconsin, Lehigh, Princeton, Penn||985|
|30||West Virginia||932.29||6526||7||2||Iowa State||1494|
|32||Northern Colorado||788.86||5522||7||0||North Dakota State||962|
|35||Appalachian State||779.33||4676||6||1||Quad (Campbell, Davidson, Presbyterian)||1000|
|36||North Carolina||760.17||4561||6||2||NC State||1362|
|41||North Dakota State||665.57||4659||7||2||Minnesota||1156|
|42||Northern Illinois||635.00||1905||3||1||Buffalo (B&B)||1043|
|45||Central Michigan||554.00||2770||5||1||Michigan State||1003|
|47||California Baptist||470.40||2352||5||0||Tri (Cal Poly, Vanguard)||878|
|50||Kent State||376.50||1506||4||1||Clarion (B&B)||1014|
|51||Drexel||362.40||1812||5||0||Army West Point||489|
|56||Campbell||318.43||2229||7||0||Quad (American, Central Michigan, CSU Bakersfield)||557|
|57||Air Force||310.71||2175||7||0||North Dakota State||351|
|58||Cleveland State||306.00||1836||6||0||Kent State||498|
|60||Franklin & Marshall||275.00||1650||6||0||Millersville||525|
|61||American||271.38||2171||8||0||Army West Point||454|
|63||Buffalo||266.63||2133||8||0||Quad (Edinboro, Bucknell, Ohio)||350|
|66||LIU||200.00||600||3||0||Tri (Drexel, George Mason)||250|
|71||Lindenwood||0.00||0||0||0||No Home Events||0|
Asterisks & Caveats: Some schools ticketed for some events and not for others. For example, Navy ticketed for two events but not the others. Some schools provided numbers of counting fans despite not being ticketed, while others included only tickets sold and didn’t include free admission for students. Duals with numbers they were able to provide were included.
Indoor dominance: Eight of the top 10 all-time single dual crowds have come at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center, and eight of the top 10 all-time indoor crowds have also come at the venue.
Carvered: After selling out every single dual last season, Iowa drew 14,905 for six opponents: Iowa State, Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska, Michigan and Oklahoma State.
Methodology: Tracking the attendance figures varies by school and some schools opt to ticket for some events and not ticket for others, making the numbers an imperfect science. This is for dual meet events only, not tournaments hosted by schools.
Tracking it: Several schools that reported they didn’t track attendance in the past did provide numbers this year in some fashion — some even hand-counted. Schools that still don’t track attendance are Brown, Columbia, Davidson, George Mason, Duke, Harvard, SIU Edwardsville, Stanford and The Citadel. Lindenwood, which is transitioning from Division II to Division I, didn’t have any home duals this season. The 70 schools that responded or tracked attendance this season is an all-time high.Reporting attendance in some manner for the first time were: Appalachian State, Bellarmine, Campbell, Ohio and Queens.
Background: The National Wrestling Media Association assumed the role of collection of the attendance figures in 2017. Denny Diehl of the Lehigh University Wrestling News began tracking in 2002. TheOpenMat.com’s Alex Steen handled the compilation from 2015-2016.
The NWMA, founded in 1989, is a professional organization of wrestling journalists, photographers, content creators, athletic communications professionals. The group assumed the responsibility of tracking of Division I wrestling attendance records in 2017. More information on the NWMA can be found at nationalwrestlingmedia.com.