Read more about the SEC's "Virtuous Sports Circle" of fans, money and victories at Best College Sports Conference if you haven't already.
However, until now, we never actually added up the numbers to determine which conference really is the top college fan attendance conference.
So, we went to the NCAA website at NCAA.org and got all the numbers and added them up.
We added up the total fan attendance at regular season games in the 2005-2006 academic year for football, men's basketball, and women's basketball.
Here are the totals. We were not surprised. The numbers speak for themselves.
1. SEC - 9,498,368
2. Big Ten - 8,270,591
3. Big-12 - 7,838,888
4. ACC - 7,320,046
5. Big East - 5,680,285 (note 16 team b-ball conference, so arguably unfair)
6. Pac 10 - 5,191,988
7. Mountain West - 3,263,756
The SEC was #1 in football fan attendance by more than 1.3 million fans. (Big Ten was second).
The SEC came in with strong 3rd place showings in both men's and women's basketball. Obviously it was football that was the key. The SEC broke its conference attendance record in all 3 sports!!
Obviously, more evidence that SEC sports is getting stronger and stronger.
Note that had we included baseball, the SEC would have been even further ahead. The top 3 NCAA Division I schools in baseball fan attendance are all from the SEC (LSU, Arkansas and Mississippi State). Ole Miss and Alabama were also in the top 10 nationally in 2006. The Big-12 was second in baseball fan attendance, but far behind the SEC. HOWEVER, the NCAA does not give a full breakdown by conference, so were unable to include baseball attendance figures in the above ranking.
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