How FBS schools meet the 15,000 requirement for attendance, and why the rule still exists

In 2018, the Mountain West and Conference USA had their lowest average attendance in conference history, according to CBS. But even the Big Ten was at its lowest since 1993 and the SEC was at its lowest since 2003. (The AAC, ACC and MAC had the only increases in 2018, all up less than 1 percent).

“The numbers are pretty clear. It’s declined, consistently, over time,” Turner said. “TV has had a lot to do with that, the internet. Fan interest in college football is still enormous, but what’s the prognosis moving forward? You’ve got to be concerned and watchful.”

For Group of 5 programs that don’t have successful histories or large fan bases, the challenge is even tougher. For schools fighting with the 15,000 requirement, the only thing that can solve the problem on a large scale is a lot of winning. But even that isn’t enough for some programs.

Those places will continue to tweak things to make games more appealing, but they’ll also continue to work the numbers gymnastics to meet a rule they believe is out of date and perhaps directing attention of athletic departments to the wrong places.

“Having requirements for the sake of having requirements, the minimums become maximums,” Frazier said. “ As soon as you have minimums, people say that’s all they’re going to do. When you have those things, it becomes a blind check off. See how we can get around it, versus doing it for the right reasons.”

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I still remember when we were at that crossroad. I used to go to Frencies and buy Chicken to eat with my cousins at the Rob while watching a football game. Glad we are far above those days…


It’s definitely an outdated rule that’s loved past it’s purpose. With all the options available to watch games with better overall experiences, as well as the intense stratification of the sport which actively discourages fan turnout for schools.

I know it’s never really been enforced but like all laws that outlive their purpose this should go into the history books.

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At one game during the tragic years my entire row was handed 5 tickets apiece and asked to go in and out 5 times so the tickets could get counted. Seriously, and we all did.


Can anyone remember a school being removed for not meeting this requirement? Me either.


It’s because the schools buy tickets to get around it. I couldn’t read the OP article because it’s behind a paywall. Here’s another example though with NIU.

The audits are performed every other year. Under NCAA bylaws, FBS teams are required to have a rolling average attendance of 15,000 people per game, paid or actual.

If this requirement isn’t met, the program will be notified that they are not meeting the NCAA’s requirements, according to a 2014 NCAA document.

“After receiving notice, any further noncompliance with the FBS requirements within a 10-year period shall cause the institution to be placed in restrictive membership,” the NCAA document reads.

John Cheney, NIU Executive Associate Athletic Director, said it’s not uncommon for schools to have to buy back tickets to meet the requirement.


Interesting… thanks Randy.

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Was this UCONN problem as well??? What about Rice???

Someone is buying the Rice and UConn tickets already pushing them above 15K/year. Their announced attendance is above that mark.

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Basically states that schools get around it by earmarking the amount need to charity. Said UMASS announced 10K+, but got over the 15K requirement by “donating the tickets to charity.” Since its tickets sold, that’s how schools get around the rule.

Also says that the rule probably needs to go away. Was put in place to scare FCS schools from moving up, but that requirement isn’t really applicable anymore.

Did mention that only 3 conferences saw an increase in attendance last season (American being one of them), but all 3 were less than 1%. Other conferences lost up to 15% of attendance from previous seasons,