The Big 12 Conference saw a 1.12 percent drop in football attendance in 2017 as college football suffered its worst attendance decline as a whole in more than three decades, per CBS Sports.
Attendance was down an overall 3.23 percent from 2016 — the second largest one-year drop ever recorded in the sport, per the report. The 1983 college football season saw a 3.5 percent drop in attendance from 1982, which was the largest ever.
The 2017 season surpassed the 2014 season as No. 2 on the list by a significant margin. College football attendance was down 2.33 percent from the 2013 season that year.
The SEC attributed for the largest decline of any Power 5 conference in 2017, seeing a 3.14 drop in attendance from 2016. The ACC was second with a 2.59 percent drop in attendance.
The Pac-12 saw virtually no change from 2016, checking in at a mere 0.09 drop. The Big Ten was the lone conference to see an increase in attendance, though at just 0.01 percent.
The cause for the noticeable attendance decline is up for debate. Down-years for several of the SEC’s biggest programs — Tennessee and Florida among them — can certainly attribute to the drop that the conference witnessed in 2017.
Others, however, believe that different factors are to blame across the board.
TV sports programmer Bill Lutzen told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd that college students “no longer view attending sporting events as part of the university experience.” PrimeSport vice president Brian Cockerham, meanwhile, believes that the “convenience of watching [games] at home” has outweighed in-person attendance for many fans.
With 2017 now in the history books, Power 5 teams will look to change the trend as the 2018 campaign approaches. Attendance has declined every year since 2013 — a year in which Power 5 teams saw 0.05 percent increase in attendance.
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