Attendance goes up for UT men's basketball

Attendance at Tennessee basketball games this season was a mixed bag, but the news wasn’t nearly as doom and gloom as at other college arenas around the country.

The Tennessee men’s team drew more fans this season than the season before (20,267 per game in 2007-08 to 20,483 in 2008-09). Not a big jump, but something to celebrate in bad economic times.

According to a USA Today study, each of college basketball’s 12 top-drawing conferences saw an attendance decrease during the 2008-09 regular season. The percentage ranged from 1 to 5 percent.

“We bucked a national trend,” said Vols coach Bruce Pearl in a video on the men’s athletic department’s Web site. “I am totally overwhelmed by the support we have received.”

The Vols were one of only three SEC teams that had attendance increases last season.

The Lady Vols weren’t as fortunate.

Although the team is still the biggest draw in women’s college basketball, attendance went down by an average of 1,800 each game.

The decline was based more on single-game sales than season tickets, which dropped off 639 from the previous season (11,446 to 10,807).

UT coach Pat Summitt thinks that the economy was a factor. Having just four Sunday home dates after Dec. 1 also didn’t help. Two of those games (Dec. 21 vs. Stanford and March 1 vs. Vanderbilt) were at night.

“Our biggest draw is on Sunday afternoons,” Lady Vols athletic director Joan Cronan said. “The way the schedule played, we only had (two) SEC games on Sunday afternoon. Just that could have been a factor. I think we could point at the economy. Maybe we weren’t as good.”

The defending national champions struggled to a 22-11 record and were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the first round for the first time, losing to Ball State.

UT’s men posted a 21-13 record this year after going 31-5 and briefly being ranked No. 1 last season.

“There was a lot of preseason excitement,” UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said. “For the most part, although we lost some games at home for the first time in awhile, the games were competitive and the team was exciting to watch.

“It goes without saying that Bruce has done a tremendous job in the community of building equity and interest in our program. Tennessee basketball has a ‘sexiness’ about it, in terms of being a good thing to do during the winter months in Knoxville.”

In their 15 home games (14 of which were televised), the Vols drew 307,239 fans; 10 of those crowds were larger than 20,000. Tennessee’s Jan. 7 home game against Gonzaga drew 22,326 — UT’s largest crowd since the arena renovation prior to the 2007-08 season.

A UT sports information office release also pointed out that Tennessee is the only Division I school ever to rank in the top five nationally in home attendance in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball in the same year and UT has accomplished that feat six times.

Dan Fleser of the News Sentinel contributed to this report.

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Comments » 18

Major_Magilicutty writes:

Good stuff. Now if the fans can just shut their yappers and let CBP do his job!

jakethevolguy writes:

Tennessee is the only Division I school ever to rank in the top five nationally in home attendance for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball in the same year. UT accomplished it for the sixth time in 2008-09.

Wow!! That's what I'm talkin about!! I didn't know that.

I hope that Melvin Goins can give us that extra boost next year for a few more "W"s and an outright SEC championship.

therealest writes:

Too bad this didn't translate to wins; they let the home fans down so bad this past year. Hopefully this will motivate them to practice hard this summer and get back to reclaiming TBA

3ballvol writes:

in response to colonelangus:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I would have to agree infact I think the student attendance was down.

knoxlawvol writes:

I should have hired whoever calculated those attendance numbers to do my taxes. There is absolutely no way that attendance was up because we have calculated according to ticket sales for several years and there were clearly fewer people in the stands this year. Having said that, I am glad we have good numbers and I can't wait for the 2009-2010 season. GO VOLS!

mlynn1 writes:

in response to 99aintagator:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Mighty big talk from a one eyed fatman Gator fan hiding behind a computer screen!

Basketball_Jones writes:

in response to colonelangus:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

GREAT NAME!!!! Straight off SNL

OrangeRush writes:

Announced attendance may have been up, but there sure didn't seem to be as many seats filled for most of the games this year as last...or even the year before.

GaytorHater writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The one on the right looks like B!tch is Back

GaytorHater writes:

in response to 99aintagator:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

johnlg00 writes:

I don't have any stats to back this up, but I have long maintained that, since CBP's arrival boosted men's basketball attendance, more people have watched UT football, men's basketball, and women's basketball, in person and on TV, than any other program in the country. For one thing, I doubt if any other school has facilities as large as both Neyland and TBA. For another, just think how large the crowds are at other SEC football schools when they play UT--few other conferences have as many large stadiums as SEC schools have. Then consider that not only do the Lady Vols lead the country in attendance, nearly every one of their opponents has THEIR largest attendance of the season when they host the Lady Vols. Finally, consider how many UT games in those sports are televised, and, barring any definitive stats to the contrary, I rest my case. Thoughts, anyone?

littleorange writes:

I attended every game this year as well as last, I did not notice any appreciable difference.

GreerVol22 writes:

If Bruce can't find a couple guys that can shoot it will not stay that way.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

The first few games will be up...especially in football.
If we start out well who knows?!

RJP11 writes:

The most interesting part of the article to me is Coach Summitt blaming the economy & lack of Sunday afternoon games for the decline in Lady Vols' attendance. I might buy the Sunday afternoon thing since like 70% of LV fans are geriatrics who can't stay up, let alone out, past 7pm. As for the economy playing a significant role, that's laughable ... who can't afford $1 walk-up nosebleed tickets? The bottom line is the LVs sucked this season (admittedly by their own standards) & 1800 people per game decided not to waste their time once it became clear there would be little or no improvement.

queens2183#661836 writes:

"RJP11 writes:
The bottom line is the LVs sucked this season (admittedly by their own standards) & 1800 people per game decided not to waste their time once it became clear there would be little or no improvement."

Maybe not the words I would have used but I do agree that the team's struggles had the biggest impact on attendance. If the team is good next year, the fans will be right back to their normal selves. I think it says a lot about TN fans though that even with their men's and women's bball teams had atypical years, the men still ended up in the top 5 with an increase in attendance and the women still led the nation.

MTN_MAN_VOL writes:

Just watched PTI and both guys thought cbp's rapping was great. They said that it was very smart on his part to show the players that he could relate and is was great fun.It also will help in recruiting.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to MTN_MAN_VOL:

Just watched PTI and both guys thought cbp's rapping was great. They said that it was very smart on his part to show the players that he could relate and is was great fun.It also will help in recruiting.

I saw that, too. No doubt those guys love CBP. Just hope the ESPN love does in fact translate into some big-time recruits.

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