ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten says it set a conference record for total attendance and that nine schools saw increases in their average this season.
The 14 conference members drew a combined 6,359,218 for home games this season, eclipsing the previous mark of 6,061,514 set last season when there were only 12 teams. It was also the third time in league history — and the third time in four seasons — that the Big Ten surpassed the six million mark.
The conference says the average attendance actually decreased with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers and their 50,000-seat stadiums. But those schools combined to fill their stadiums to 95 percent capacity for Big Ten home games and combined to sell out five league games.
Maryland also saw a league-leading 13.8 percent jump in average attendance for all games compared with the 2013 season. Rutgers (8.8 percent) was second. Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin each saw average attendance increase by as much as 5.2 percent.
The Big Ten is also one of two conferences with more than two teams ranked among the top 22 in the nation in average attendance, with Ohio State leading the country at 106,296. Michigan (104,909) is third, followed by No. 5 Penn State (101,623), No. 10 Nebraska (91,249), No. 18 Wisconsin (79,520), No. 20 Michigan State (74,681) and No. 22 Iowa (67,512). Michigan's attendance is down from 111,592 per game last season.