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Despite being the largest subset of the NCAA, Division III sports programs have had very little research dedicated to them regarding student attendance motivations. This study surveyed 620 undergraduate students at a midsize Division III school (total enrollment 10,902) to determine their attitudes toward attending athletic events and potential motivators for getting them into the stands. Students who had personally interacted with an athlete or coach had better attitudes toward university athletics than those who had not. Results also supported predictions of the theory of planned behavior, finding that attitudes toward individual sports were the strongest predictor of intentions to attend future games. Open-ended responses also asked students why they do not attend games and what would get them to attend more games. Analyses of these responses are followed by key recommendations for communications professionals at similar-size institutions seeking ways to increase student attendance at their athletic events.
The author is with the Brian Lamb School of Communication, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.