Declining Student Attendance at College Sporting Events: Testing the Relative Influence of Constraints

Jason Simmons
Nels Popp
and T. Christopher Greenwell

College students represent an important target market for intercollegiate athletic marketers; however, re-cent years have seen a nationwide trend of declining student attendance at high-profile sporting events (Cohen, 2014; Rowland, 2019). The current study examined this issue by studying the influence of constraints on student attendance. Data were collected in partnership with the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA). In total, more than 23,000 respondents from 60 NCAA Di-vision I institutions participated in the study. Conjoint analysis was utilized to assess student attendance preferences across a set of attributes to determine the relative importance of each constraint tested. Separate analyses were conducted for both football and men’s basketball samples as well as NCAA conference tier (Power Five, Group of Five, FCS). Results indicated constraint importance varied by market segment. Of note, as passion levels among student respondents increased, importance shifted from ticket price to seat location and game day atmosphere.