Husker Fans Set Attendance Bar High Across Board
By Jeff Griesch
Lincoln - University of Nebraska fans showed why they were the "Greatest Fans in College Sports" in 2015-16, setting attendance bars at unmatched levels across 10 programs during the season.
Nebraska ranked among the top-15 nationally in attendance in football, men's basketball, women's basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, men's and women's gymnastics and likely softball in 2015-16.
The Huskers set single-season average home attendance records in both volleyball (8,206) and softball (1,006), while producing eye-popping increases in baseball (34%) and soccer (279%).
During the fall and winter sport seasons, Nebraska led the nation across the board in total attendance in its five primary team sports, attracting 1.17 million fans to Husker home events in football, volleyball, soccer and men's and women's basketball.
"Our coaches, student-athletes and our entire athletic staff recognize and acknowledge the tremendous support that our fans provide our student-athletes with their attendance at our events," Nebraska Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst said. "Our coaches and student-athletes appreciate the great game-day atmosphere and home-field advantage that these large crowds help to create at all our venues."
Nebraska football ranked 10th nationally in total attendance (629,983) and volleyball dominated its sport as the No. 1 attendance team in the country (147,714). Soccer, which ranked 13th nationally in average home attendance at 1,381 fans per game at the new Dr. Barbara Hibner Soccer Stadium, added 12,427 in total attendance during the fall sports season.
"I love talking to people who care, and people in Nebraska care more than anybody," Nebraska Football Coach Mike Riley said. "They love their team, their school, their state."
The Huskers also packed Pinnacle Bank Arena during the winter months with the men's basketball program ranking 11th nationally in average (15,430) and total attendance (277,739).
"It says a lot about Nebraska fans," Men's Basketball Coach Tim Miles said. "They come out and support us. There is no place like Nebraska."
The Big Red women's basketball program ranked No. 9 nationally in total attendance (102,682) while ranking 12th with an average home attendance of 5,404 fans per game.
"Our attendance figures in women's basketball and across all of our sports just confirms what we already know in Husker Nation. Nebraska has the greatest fans in the country," Women's Basketball Coach Amy Williams said. "There is a special connection between our student-athletes and our fans because we sense how invested the fan base is in all the Husker programs. Our student-athletes have a sense of pride and responsibility while representing the University, the state of Nebraska and our incredible fan base. We want our fans to know how much we appreciate their support."
Nebraska was the leader among just seven schools in the nation to attract more than 1 million fans across those five sports during the fall and winter campaigns.
NCAA Fall & Winter Sport Attendance
(FB, VB, SOC, MBB, WBB)
1. Nebraska - 1,170,545
2. Tennessee - 1,133,494
3. Ohio State - 1,132,624
4. Kentucky - 1,045,636
5. Michigan - 1,043,550
6. Texas A&M - 1,026,017
7. Wisconsin - 1,006,948
Overall, when looking at attendance figures from Nebraska's seven major team sports (football, women's volleyball, women's soccer, men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball), the Huskers ranked No. 2 nationally in total attendance across those sports.
NCAA Division I Seven-Sport Attendance
1. LSU - 1,429,061
2. Nebraska - 1,323,631
3. South Carolina - 1,312,258
4. Texas A&M - 1,273,587
5. Tennessee - 1,226,709
Nebraska totaled 1,323,631 in attendance across those sports as the only school in the nation to attract more than 100,000 in total attendance in five sports (football, volleyball, men's and women's basketball, baseball). In fact, the only other schools in the nation to draw 100,000 or more in four of those sports were South Carolina and Louisville (football, men's and women's basketball, baseball).
Nebraska and LSU were the only two schools in the nation to draw 1.3 million fans across the seven sports, and only five schools managed as many as 1.2 million. In fact, only 12 NCAA Division I schools drew 1 million or more fans in those seven sports combined.
While LSU's overall attendance number surged in the spring by leading the nation in baseball attendance that made up for lagging numbers in men's and women's basketball and volleyball, the Huskers also shined on the diamond.
Nebraska's attendance surged to 141,007 for an average of 5,222 per game at Hawks Field to rank No. 8 in the country. In fact, Nebraska was the only northern school to rank among the nation's top 25 in total baseball attendance. Since 2014, Nebraska baseball's total attendance has increased by a total of 59,963 for an increase of 74 percent over two seasons.
"The passion and loyalty Husker Nation shows to all sports creates an amazing atmosphere for the student-athlete experience," Nebraska Baseball Coach Darin Erstad said. "It is truly an honor to represent Nebraska."
Nebraska's 2015-16 Average Home Attendance Rankings By Sport
1. Volleyball - 8,206 (school record)
2. Men's Gymnastics - 1,830
8. Baseball - 5,222
10. Wrestling - 1,893
11. Football - 89,998
11. Men's Basketball - 15,430
12. Women's Basketball - 5,404
13. Women's Soccer - 1,381
15. Women's Gymnastics - 2,412
TBA. Softball - 1,006 (school record)
Nebraska was the only school in the nation to rank among the top 15 in both football and men's basketball attendance in 2015-16. The Huskers took that a step further with baseball ranking No. 8 nationally in attendance, making Nebraska the only school in the country to rank in the top 15 in each of the three major men's team sports during the fall, winter and spring seasons.
Nebraska also joined Penn State as the only schools in the nation to rank among the top 15 in both women's volleyball and women's soccer attendance during the 2015 fall campaign.
"In 2001, we started a sellout streak at Nebraska," Volleyball Coach John Cook said. "Now, 15 years, 204 regular-season matches and three national championships later, that streak is still going and we are leading the nation in attendance. We love to thank our fans every chance we get, because Husker Nation always delivers. There is no place like Nebraska."
The Huskers were also only one of five athletic programs to rank among the nation's top 15 in both men's and women's basketball attendance, joining Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State and Maryland.
Nebraska's attendance prowess started with football, where the Huskers ranked 10th nationally in total attendance and 11th with 89,998 fans per game in 2015. The Huskers also extended their nation-leading home sellout streak at Memorial Stadium to an NCAA-record 347 games.
Also during the fall sports campaign, the Nebraska women's volleyball program ranked No. 1 in the nation for the third consecutive season at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Huskers, who added their fourth NCAA championship on the court to their third national attendance crown in the stands, averaged a school-record 8,206 fans per match. They also stretched their amazing regular-season sellout streak to 204 straight home matches.
The Huskers took that a step further during its national title run at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, firmly solidifying Nebraska as the country's top volleyball fan base. The Big Red set an NCAA single-match attendance record with 17,551 fans witnessing a Husker semifinal win over Kansas. That record lasted just 48 hours, before 17,561 fans cheered Nebraska to victory over Texas in the NCAA championship match.
While Husker fans supported volleyball in record numbers, they also showed revitalized support to the Nebraska soccer program during its first season in its new home at Hibner Stadium.
Nebraska ranked 13th nationally in average home attendance in women's soccer, drawing 1,381 fans per game at Hibner Stadium. The Husker home crowds marked an increase of 1,017 fans per game over NU's final season at Ed Weir Stadium, a staggering improvement of nearly 280 percent from 2014 to 2015.
“The opening of Hibner Stadium was really the catalyst for our huge attendance improvement," Nebraska Soccer Coach John Walker said. "We have always had loyal fans. Now, combined with one of the country’s best soccer stadiums, we know that we will be playing in front of some of the largest and most boisterous crowds in college soccer.”
Nebraska's attendance success continued with top-12 showings in both men's (15,430) and women's basketball (5,404) at Pinnacle Bank Arena, while the Huskers also ranked 15th nationally in average home attendance for women's gymnastics (2,412) at the Devaney Center. NU also ranked second nationally in men's gymnastics attendance by averaging 1,830 fans per home competition.
The Nebraska wrestling program rounded out an outstanding winter season at the turnstiles by averaging 1,893 fans per home dual, which is expected to rank solidly among the nation's top 15 in 2015-16.
During the spring, Husker baseball set the tone with 5,222 fans per game, while softball set a school record with an average home attendance of 1,006 fans per game at Bowlin Stadium.
"Nebraska fans love their Huskers, and they show it day in and day out in overall support of our programs," Nebraska Softball Coach Rhonda Revelle said. "There is no greater gift than someone's time, and Nebraska fans give their time to fill our stands and stadiums to enthusiastically cheer on their beloved teams. Thank you Husker Nation for proving on a sport-by-sport, day-by-day basis that you are the greatest fans in all of collegiate sports."
The NCAA does not keep official attendance numbers for men's and women's gymnastics or wrestling. The attendance ranking for women's gymnastics was based on a list compiled by the gymnastics coaches association. Numbers for softball and baseball are not final or official at this time, and attendance totals for baseball will not be complete until the end of Super Regional play this weekend. Attendance numbers for wrestling are based on research done by the University of Nebraska.