Northern Illinois University reportedly bought back $273,619 worth of home-game football tickets in order to meet NCAA attendance requirements.
According to the college newspaper Northern Star, the university announced their home attendance for the 2017 season at 67,748, but an audit shows that only 44,084 tickets were scanned during that period. In order to not lose their Football Bowl Series status, as well as corporate sponsorships, the ticket office purchased 56,345 tickets totaling $273,619.
While this seems like a lot of money, NIU athletic director Sean Frazier said it’s not uncommon.
“I’d garner if you did research on [on ticket buy backs], you would probably find 100 percent ratio where schools our size or in our conference do something similar to what we do,” Frazier told Northern Star.
Back in 2010, Eastern Michigan University sold 50,000 tickets to Pepsi, one of their corporate sponsors, in order to reach FBS attendance requirements, Ann Arbor News reported.
During the school’s last football season, NIU averaged 11,291 tickets sold per game, while only 7,347 were scanned per game. Since NIU hosted six home games this year, they would need to sell 90,000 tickets, totaling 15,000 per game, to meet the requirements.
Frazier explained that attendance at events is crucial to student athletes as well as the student body because “there’s nothing more passionate to have supporters cheering you on and cheering the university on.” However, attendance numbers for college football games have decreased across the country.
“When you can sit back in your house, watch your flat screen TV in whatever dimensions you can afford, not having to deal with parking, not having to deal with crowds going to an event, where you are ducking some of those things and dodging some of those things, it becomes a challenge,” Frazier said.
In order to boost attendance, the university has implemented new promotions and incentives to make the games more inviting to students.