NCAA football attendance topped 50 million for the first time in 2013

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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).

College Football Hall of Fame adds title sponsor

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The College Football Hall of Fame is no longer the College Football Hall of Fame. Well, it is, but it isn’t.

It’s still a massive museum dedicated to honoring our nation’s greatest sport, but it will no longer be known by that name. The Atlanta-based Hall has added a title sponsor, and it’s the same corporation that sponsors everything else college football within Atlanta, from the Peach Bowl to Paul Johnson‘s sock drawer (presumably) — Chick-fil-A.

The new name and logo was unveiled Thursday.

As of press time, there was no word on if the first 100,000 CFT readers will receive a free 12-pack of nuggets upon entry.

Report: Cannabis oil not the reason C.J. Harris denied walk-on opportunity at Auburn

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A major brouhaha broke out on social media last last week when it was reported that C.J. Harris was denied by the NCAA an opportunity to walk-on at Auburn because of his prescription for cannabis oil, which he uses to prevent epileptic seizures. Harris claims to be seizure free since January 2017 thanks to the medication.

“After Auburn coaches and staff took a second look at his medical records, they told Harris’ father Curtis that his son could not compete in NCAA athletics while he was taking cannabis oil,” reported WGXA-TV, which broke the story.

“You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” Curtis Harris, the player’s father, said. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”

But according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover, the story is more complicated than that. A source told Marcello that it was Auburn’s doctors, and not NCAA rules, that will prevent Harris from suiting up for the Tigers. Writes Marcello:

Auburn’s team physician did not clear Harris due to the pre-existing medical conditions, a source close to the Auburn football program said. The Auburn medical staff was concerned about the epilepsy and wanted to protect his well being in a full-contact sport that could lead to head trauma, the source said.

That information will not stop people from ripping on the NCAA, however, largely because it’s fun to rip on the NCAA.

But the Harris situation is a flashpoint in a larger cultural issue. Public opinion on marijuana is changing — 61 percent of Americans believe it should be legal, according to a Pew Research poll in January, an increase from 57 percent in 2017 and a massive leap from the 31 percent who thought the same in 2000 — and cannabis is already legal for purchase on a medical basis in 29 states. And the opinion of Auburn’s doctors doesn’t change the fact Harris would still be ineligible under current NCAA rules.

However, the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has discussed “medical marijuana and CBD products at recent meetings” and will do so again at its next gathering in June, according to SB Nation. The Harris situation — and the subsequent public reaction — should be a a topic of conversation.

 

Two Illinois players charged with theft for relocating deer sculpture

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A pair of Illinois players have been charged with theft between $500 and $10,000 after taking a sculpture from a Champaign park and relocating it to the top of their apartment building.

Jimmy Marchese, a junior linebacker, and Drew Murtaugh, a sophomore linebacker, told police they were walking home on the night of April 29 and saw a sculpture of a running deer, titled “Startled,” lying on the ground and took it home, placing the sculpture on the roof of their apartment. The Champaign Park District pleaded for the sculpture’s return on Facebook, and an anonymous tip led the authorities to Marchese and Murtaugh.

“Startled” has since been reinstalled at Champaign’s Scott Park, where the $5,000 sculpture will require touch-up work by the artist who created it.

“We had to have the artist come and do some work on it. We think we got it worked out to where it would be a lot harder for anyone to take it out again,” Champaign Park District director Joe DeLuce told the Champaign News Gazette.

The Illini pair has already appeared in court for a probable-cause hearing, and are due back on June 12. They face penalties ranging from probation to five years in prison.

Illinois spokesman Kent Brown told the News Gazette that head coach Lovie Smith is aware of the incident but has taken no action.

Marchese, a native of Vernon Hills, Ill., played in all 12 games in 2017 with two starts, and was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. Murtaugh, hailing from Crystal Lake, Ill., did not letter as a redshirt freshman in 2017, but joined his partner in petty crime as an Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

 

Georgia DB Tray Bishop arrested on felony charge for alleged recording of sexual act

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Georgia freshman defensive back DetravionTray” Bishop was arrested on Wednesday on charges of felony eavesdropping/surveillance. The charges stem from an incident from this past fall, according to a report from Chip Towers of DawgNation.com. Bishop, who promptly turned himself over to the authorities after a warrant for his arrest was issued, has already been released from a county jail on a $5,700 bond.

The arrest follows an investigation by University of Georgia police responded to a complaint filed by a woman in April. The woman claimed Bishop recorded a sexual act between the two without her consent back in November.

“The complainant wished to report that there was a student going around showing people a sex tape of her … without her consent,” the police report said, according to the DawgNation report. “… A subsequent investigation into this incident led us into determining that the crime of unlawful eavesdropping occurred on [Nov. 5]. The investigation showed that Detravion Bishop had recorded [victim’s name] inside his dorm room without her permission and without her knowledge.”

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has responded to the situation, expressing concern over the circumstances Bishop is caught up in.

“We are investigating the matter and it’s important that we gather all information relevant to the situation before we determine what policies may come into play,” Smart said in his statement. “Then we can take appropriate action if necessary.”

Bishop was a three-star recruit in Georgia’s Class of 2017, according to his Rivals profile. Bishop red-shirted last season.