By Denny Diehl
Roby Publishing & LU Wrestling News
Amended March 5, 2014
This season Iowa became the first school in history to host three dual crowds over 10,000. On Dec. 21, they drew 13,747 for Penn State, then 10,141 vs. Oklahoma St on Jan. 10 and 10,588 for Minnesota on Jan. 25. The Hawkeyes previously held the record of hosting two 10,000-plus meets in one season, doing it four times: in 1984-85 vs. Iowa St, Okla St; 1999-00 (same two rivals); 2000-01 (ISU, Minnesota) and 2009-10 (again ISU, Okla St).
In addition, PSU joined Iowa by hosting one crowd over 10,000 – and broke Iowa’s NCAA record, at that – drawing 15,996 for Pitt. The prior national mark was 15,955 for ISU at Iowa on Dec. 6, 2008. The total of four dual crowds of 10,000-plus is another first for any college wrestling season.
DIVISION I ATTENDANCE LEADERS
|Rank||School (# of Home Duals)||Average||Total||Best||Rival|
|1||Iowa (7)||8835||61843||13747||Penn St|
|2||Penn State (8)||7646||61170||15996||Pittsburgh|
|3||Minnesota (5)||3462||17310||5603||Penn St|
|4||Iowa State (4)||3255||13021||6261||Iowa|
|5||Oklahoma State (8)||2713||21705||5135||Oklahoma|
|6||Ohio State (4)||2386||9544||4412||Michigan|
|7||Lehigh (7)||2290||16032||4773||Penn St|
|9||Northern Iowa (7)||1766||12363||2060||WI,MO,ISU,PU|
|10||Oklahoma (4)||1443||5770||3355||Oklahoma State|
|13||Pittsburgh (7)||1044||7310||1921||Okla St|
|15||Oregon State (7)||1004||7028||2138||Minnesota|
|16||Wyoming (5)||993||4967||1548||Oklahoma State|
|17||Michigan (8)||910||7281||1519||Mich St|
|18||Old Dominion (7)||819||5736||1489||Va Tech|
These facts are confirmed via several decades of Roby research utilizing nearly 60 years of issues of Amateur Wrestling News, plus assistance from the late NCAA author, Jay Hammond, who un-earthed a true journalistic gem in 2005: the turnout of 11,500 which attended Northern Iowa at Minnesota on Jan. 19, 1946. That jewel had been unknown to the national media and apparently stood as the national record until 13,000 was announced for Iowa State at Iowa on Jan. 3, 1975, soon to be broken the next year.
The timing and sequence chart for each successive record set shows that Pennsylvania becomes the first state other than Minnesota or Iowa ever to own the record for best-ever crowd. The fact that two Iowa State alumni coaching at other institutions have conspired to help shake up the “attendance tree” will be debated as long as wrestling fans are alive and well.
The Nittany Lions accomplished a school “quad-fecta” by sweeping all its attendance records: top crowd, total season attendance (61,170), avg. attendance (7,646) and also extended its school record to 19 straight standing-room only crowds. The Bryce Jordan turnout for Pitt was also a facility record for any kind of event.
Penn State also helped Rider set a new record (2,000), as well as struggling Boston U., which had its first-ever standing-room only crowd of 1,664 for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State also nipped Iowa’s former all-time record season total of 61,843 of last year – but the Hawkeyes overtook that by averaging 8,835 for seven duals, for a new record 61,843 fans for single duals (not counting another 5,000+ for a triple dual season opener vs. local non-Division I programs*). Iowa owns the three highest single season averages in history, all in the prior three years, led by their record average of 9,014 for six duals in 2011-12
Most importantly, 13 of the 16 top-ranked schools in attendance improved their average vs. last season.
Lehigh enjoyed its second-best season average since 1983 and Nebraska, Northern Iowa and Edinboro had their highest averages in the 14 seasons since Roby initiated national attendance charting. Minnesota and Oklahoma State had their best since 2010-11 and Iowa State since the year before.
If any school has been inadvertently omitted with an average above 800 a meet, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The volunteer assignment isn’t always easy but it certainly seems worth doing; if anyone would like to replace me at my age of 66 this May, feel free to holler ! Congrats to all who slug it out in the trenches promoting our sport.
*A caveat on ground rules for leveling the playing field for comparing attendance: only single dual meets vs. Div. I rivals on home college campuses are counted, with a minimum four required. While it’s commendable to run meets off-campus and face D-II’s or III’s to promote the sport, these tend to dilute vs prove drawing power. In addition, combined wrestling/gymnastics events are divided by two to reflect the shared draw.
TOP KNOWN CROWDS BY HOST SCHOOL
|1664||Boston U||Penn State||1||2014|
|4200||Cal Poly||21||Iowa State||1||1972|
|9750||Fresno St||25||Iowa State||2||2004|
|5000||Lock Haven||11||Penn State||4||1996|
|6800||North Dakota State||Iowa||1||1992|
|6518||Ohio State||6||Penn State||1||2013|
|1461||Old Dominion||20||Virginia Tech||14||2009|
|7000||Oregon State||7||Iowa State||1||1972|
|5470||Utah Valley||Penn State||2||2012|