Football attendance topped 50 million for the first time in 2013, according to a report released by the NCAA earlier this month.
The 657 schools in the NCAA who have football programs drew 50,291,275 total fans to break the mark of 49,699,419 set in 2011.
Of course, one reason for the increase in attendance is the increase in the number of schools playing football. There were 13 more schools in 2013 than in 2012.
Still, the FBS averaged an attendance of 45,671 per game and drew a record 38,135,118 fans. The FCS totaled 6,238,740 fans, while Division II attracted 2,985,610 spectators. Division III also recorded an all-time high with 2,465,231 total fans.
To no one’s surprise, the SEC led all FBS conferences in average attendance for the 16th-straight season and enjoyed another record-setting year with 7,567,406 fans in 2013.
But the Big House carried the day as usual among all teams. Michigan’s average of 111,592 fans at its seven home contests led the nation for its 16th consecutive attendance title.
Two other programs also topped the 100,000 mark: Ohio State at 104,933; and Alabama at 101,505.
Other highlights from the report:
• The SEC attendance averaged 75,674 per game to lead all conferences. The Big Ten (70,431), Big 12 (58,899), Pac-12 (53,619) and Atlantic Coast (49,982) rounded out the top five in conference attendance;
• Seven FBS and FCS conferences set records for total attendance. The FBS conferences were the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC. The FCS conferences were the Missouri Valley Football, Big Sky and Pioneer Football League;
• The FBS postseason featured 35 bowl games that totaled 1,714,617 spectators for an average of 48,989 fans per contest;
• Michigan, the first school to average more than 100,000 a game (in 1976), has captured the attendance title 44 times since 1949, including 38 since 1974.
• For all-game attendance — including home, road and neutral-site games — Auburn led all schools with 1,204,185 fans watching the Tigers during 14 games. Thirteen teams played in front of more than one million fans this season.
• Five FBS programs enjoyed an increase of more than 8,000 fans per game versus 2012. Leading the way was Washington, which reopened Husky Stadium after a 21-month renovation project. With the renovated stadium opening in August, Washington drew an average of 10,153 more fans per game from 2012 to ’13. The Huskies were followed by Kentucky (9,781), Buffalo (9,495), Akron (8,575) and Pittsburgh (8,247).