With one home football game remaining, Deputy Director of Athletics Derek van der Merwe confirmed the football program will be compliant with the NCAA’s attendance provisions.
Central Michigan University must average 15,000 in attendance this season in one of two ways: a head-count system or a paid attendance system.
Van der Merwe said it will most likely use the paid attendance method, the most common method used by schools in the Mid-American Conference.
“You use actual tickets sold, not how many people are in the stands,” he explained. “Even if a season ticket is not utilized, they still count, or if a person purchased tickets that were not used, they can still be counted. And if sponsors purchase tickets, they can still be included.”
Students are the only group counted the same in both methods.
According to CMU athletics, the average attendance so far this season is 17,504. But a different number would most likely have to be submitted to the NCAA if the season ended today.
When CMU athletics announces the estimated attendance after every game, that number includes student groups (band, cheerleaders, working staff and possibly players), which cannot be used when submitting its final attendance numbers.
Last year, the average estimated attendance was 15,291, but CMU athletics reported to the NCAA that it was 10,466 — well below the Division I benchmark needed once every two years.
But this year, most likely using the paid ticket system, van der Merwe said he has a firm understanding of how many tickets must be sold for Saturday’s game against Miami.
“There is enough variance in how many tickets have already been sold that we will be okay going into the last game,” he said. “We have enough of a sold buffer, essentially, that we will be okay.”
Van der Merwe also said he is confident CMU will draw a good crowd for the last game.
“We have a football team that is going for 6-6 (record) and bowl eligibility,” he said. “And this is a community weekend. We are doing a lot of different types of vouchers and different types of ticket opportunities for people in our community. Our Chamber of Commerce and local businesses have been targeted as opportunities to be a part of this game.”
After the season, records are handed over to auditors who will determine the attendance number submitted to the NCAA in January.
“Everything we do (during the season), is turned over to our auditors to verify our methodology and it is then certified,” van der Merwe said. “They go through all of our receipts and all of our sales, making sure it meets the NCAA’s standards.”