Kansas football crowds smallest in power five


Kansas head coach David Beaty shows his frustration after a West Virginia touchdown during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach David Beaty shows his frustration after a West Virginia touchdown during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Entering his 11th season in Durham, head football coach David Cutcliffe really has things humming at Duke, former perennial football doormat.

Cutcliffe's Blue Devils, who hammered Kansas 41-3 in 2013, have had a winning record in four of the past five seasons. His 2012 squad ended the school's 18-year bowl drought. Despite all that success, the Blue Devils still must play in front of so many empty seats.

Among the 65 power-five schools, plus Notre Dame, Duke had the second-lowest average attendance in the nation (26,797) in 2017. It's not cool to be a football fan at Duke. Krzyzewskiville is cool. Shame.

At least Kansas has a legitimate excuse for even smaller, albeit just barely, crowds (26,641). The Jayhawks are 3-33 the past three seasons. Nobody wants to watch their teams lose, especially in such uncompetitive fashion.

Eighty percent of power-five football programs draw more than 40,000 fans per game and 97 percent draw more than 30,000 a game, Duke and Kansas being the lone exceptions.

For winners and losers, though, crowds at college football games have been on a steady decline in recent years. A look at the 13 power-five schools with the smallest football crowds:

Power 5 School 2017 Attendance
2017 W-L
Kansas 26,641 (50,071)
Duke 26,797 (40,004)
31,341 (40,550)
Syracuse 33,929 (49,250)
Oregon State
34,754 (45,674)
Northwestern 35,853 (47,130)
Boston College
35,924 (44,500)
Pittsburgh 36,295 (68,400)
California 36,548 (63,000)
Virginia 39,398 (61,500)
Illinois 39,429 (60,670)
Maryland 39,643 (54,000)
39,749 (52,454)


[''] 1 year, 2 months ago

Football is the #1 revenue sport in college sports by a wide margin. KU is leaving millions of dollars on the table each and every Saturday. Moreover, Lawrence hotels and restaurants are losing tens of thousands each home game Saturday. Just 9 years ago in 2009 (a losing season), KU averaged upwards of 42,000 fans per home game. That is a massive decline in this abysmal Zenger era of 12-72 football.

Craig Carson 1 year, 2 months ago

to be fair, in 2009 KU fans were feeling pretty good because the team had enjoyed success and we felt like they were improving..but its hard to motivate fans to come watch a team that hasnt won more than 10 games TOTAL over the past 5 seasons and has shown very little evidence of improvement

Dillon Davis 1 year, 2 months ago

Put a competitive team on the field and you'll get a competitive attendance number. We are never going to be a football school. We will never have 10s of thousands for a spring game. But as we showed in the late mangino years, KU fans will support their team when they are competitive. That seems like a pretty fair thing to ask of the team, the administration, and the fans.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 2 months ago

Those Mangino years show that it is possible for us to sellout the home stadium every Saturday in the fall and that it is possible to have 10s of thousands attend the spring game. If we have a team that is competitive in the league then people will show up to watch.

Ryan Ferree 1 year, 2 months ago

There is something magical about Saturdays in Lawrence during the fall.Watching the band march down the hill, sun sparkling off Potter lake while smells of barbecue fill the air. College students partying, music blaring.. Just a wonderful time. Then you enter the stadium and its a quarter full, your Jayhawks are down by 30 at half.. No point of buying food at the concession stand, its all old and moldy.. Even on the first game day of the year. A complete and absolute joke. Get this sh%t going, fix the problems.. GET IT DONE... I need Saturdays in Lawrence to be fun again.. I'm sick of only going to the first game against a FCS opponent, there is no point in going to any other game just to see us lose by 50. Getting our butts kicked over and over. If KU wants fans in the seats fix the product, as a school we have proved we can fill the stadium. But forget going to watch the tire fire that is the current state of this program.

Mike Zimmerman 1 year, 2 months ago

Calling the state of Kansas Football a tire fire is a disgrace to tire fires everywhere.

Richard Wright 1 year, 2 months ago

Interesting note... for all the "experts" that call the Big Ten the best football conference, there are 4 teams in the bottom ten in attendance.

Tom Horner 1 year, 2 months ago

What has happened to KU? I hope I am not just some "old guy" remembering how great things used to be. Didn't KU in the past; 1. Have great basketball teams. (still do) 2. Have football teams that went to bowl games fairly regularly and played to at least half full stadiums. 3. Have track teams that competed for NCAA team championships. And the KU Relays were a #1 national event with the high school meet on Friday and the college/international meet on Saturday and Sunday. We had stars like Santee, Frame, Ryan, Mills, Oerter, & Neider. With several world records and Olympic Golds among them. Now we have trouble getting anyone here to compete. 4. Baseball was competitive. 5. We had a swimming team that was competitive. I don't think all these things have deteriorated by accident. Does anyone have any explanation for me? Maybe the prevalent feeling is 1 out of 5 isn"t bad.

Steve Corder 1 year, 2 months ago

Tom, just what baseball years are you comparing?

Steve Corder 1 year, 2 months ago

Zenger? Pray tell me of Z’s part in baseball!

Whitney Tangeman 1 year, 2 months ago

All arrows seem to point to who's in charge. And too many people think spending boatloads of money on new facilities is the main responsibility of an AD. Shame.

Marius Rowlanski 1 year, 2 months ago

Fortunately, KU must have stood up by making it to the Final Four in volleyball in 2015. And in 2013, Kansas women win a track and field NCAA title. We have a competitive soccer team also.

If we had a dependable winning football program (doesn't have to be great, just a little bit over .500) and we might be able to field as you more athletic programs. This is where the lack of football revenue hurts us the most. Winning football helps EVERY program, more than even our basketball program.

I don't understand why we let our track program go from one of the top-rated track and field teams from 59 – 70. We have 11 total titles. I think Missouri has one total (baseball).

We won the last college championship in bowling before it became an NCAA sport.

[''] 1 year, 2 months ago

You can't ever convince me that there were more than 12,000 people at that Baylor game in Lawrence in November when a winless Baylor team beat us 38-9 with their 20+ walk-ons.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 2 months ago

If we hadn't had a home game vs. KSU, the overall numbers would have worked even worse.

The good news? The idiotic new indoor practice facility, furnished a handful of high school bleachers, might be able to serve as our new stadium as long as the Girod/Zenger/Beaty three-headed monster continues to live.

Geoffrey Alonso 1 year, 2 months ago

Yeah I would say you probably get travelling fans bolstering those numbers pretty well. When you can drive 3 hrs from Stillwater or 4 from Norman and get incredibly cheap good tickets, and know your team is going to pound KU. It's unfortunate, but speaks to the state of football.

John Fitzgerald 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm surprised Duke's attendance is so low. They've been a solid team for a while now. Either way attendance won't be pretty in Lawrence this year. Hopefully I'm wrong. I did a short piece on what fans should expect and to be honest the best approach is expect nothing.

David Robinett 1 year, 2 months ago

Clearly we don’t need a bigger stadium, just one with better amenities.

Bryson Stricker 1 year, 2 months ago

fair-weather fan

fair-weather fan (n)

A person who is supportive of and enthusiastic about a sports team only when that team is performing well.

Just going to leave this here. Not going to comment further.

Al Martin 1 year, 2 months ago

We don't require them to perform well. We require them to perform, period. They haven't.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 2 months ago

I guess you are referring to the sports team of Girod/Zenger/Beaty.

It would be hard to tell if there are any fair weather fans for them, they have never been successful to see if there would be some people that ever support them.

Dillon Davis 1 year, 2 months ago

It's year 4 in the Beaty era and he has shown nothing except beating Texas once. If this were year 1 or year 2 and people weren't even giving the guy a chance, okay then that's something to have an argument about.

I'm not gonna bash my fellow fans for making a statement by not going to the game. That's the primary way to get the administration's attention that many of us don't support the current coach or AD. Social media can be a big influence too (like we saw with Tennessee) but not attending games or buying food/merchandise is going to hurt them more - and this is coming from someone who still goes to 80% of the games each year!

Clearly all of us who are commenting and talking about this on here and on social media care about the team and want them to succeed. To say we don't support the team is incorrect. We just don't support Zenger or Beaty and the low attendance numbers show that and hopefully will make a change.

Eric Eakins 1 year, 2 months ago

Every team in the history of sports has fans at all levels of support. It's actually important to the health of the organization. When attendance starts to wain then there are signals going up. Losing isn't always what the signal is. Look at the 90's Atlanta Braves who were dominating their division every year but couldn't sell out the stadium or postseason games. Other factors were keeping some fans away.

I gave up my season tickets after I learned what Lew Perkins and the athletic department were doing with my money (illegally in some cases as some went to jail). It had nothing to do with KU's wins/losses or my love for the hawks but my deeper moral standing that I didn't want to financially support the program until it showed me it used my money properly.

Ironically I was about ready to be supportive again, feeling like they made the adjustments. I'm not because the last game I went to was against a non-power 5 school and we were not competitive. Not because of our skill level but because of our leadership IMO. That Zenger doesn't make a move because then his job would be on the line (subjective on my part) again shows they are not using my money wisely.

I cheer for the Hawks and watch most games in some format. I desperately want them to be competitive again and when my money is being spent wisely by the department, I will start giving it again in the Williams Fund and seasons tickets.

For the cynical out there, I gave up my basketball tickets as well and haven't renewed them either even though KU pings me 4 times a year to do so.

Mike Bennett 1 year, 2 months ago

Just an idiotic statement. At some point the University has to provide something worth watching. I grew up three blocks from the stadium, parked cars in yards when I was 10 and sold Coke's in the stands in the 70's and had season tickets for nearly 30 years before moving out of state. The University consistently wants the fans to show support, but a 1/2 dozen bowl games in 30 years tells me the University and staff isn't doing it's part. You can only ask the fans to support a loser for so long before it becomes the same old sad song. It's akin to how the LJ World blames the QB every year and tries to instill hype with a new one every spring. Same old Story, different day. Tired of hearing it.

John Brazelton 1 year, 2 months ago

Had the Fat Man had a good back-up QB when Reesing went down to injury his senior year, he would have never gotten fired if he had continued to win. Unfortunately, Reesing was a once-in-a-life time QB who gave us a brief touch of glory for 2 1/2 years. It takes a long time to go from the basement to the penthouse. We're currently in the cellar waiting to move upwards.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 2 months ago

I don't think that is true. The team was 5-0 and they had determined to fire him, the team finished 5-7, not because of Reesing, but because they had already determined the downhill spiral was upon us.

Lew had already determined that the new coach was going to be Turner Gill well before the coach was terminated. I think it was good to have an alternative plan, but not to run the coach out to use your alternative plan.

Andy Tweedy 1 year, 2 months ago

I love Kansas football, but that our attendance is dead last is the least surprising thing I've ever read...EVER!

John Joseph Gorski 1 year, 2 months ago

The Kansas team in Necessary Roughness had better attendance.

[''] 1 year, 2 months ago

Only problem is that Duke has a legit excuse: only 6600 students. What's KU's excuse??

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