Attendance dips with decreased enrollment

By Melanie Early, @MelanieEarly

Since Saluki Way—an $80 million project renovating most athletic facilities—was launched in 2006, SIU men’s basketball attendance has declined, while football attendance has remained nearly constant.

Saluki Athletics’ counting policy has changed in the past 15 years.

Since the 2012-13 school year, SIU counts everyone in the crowd and adds the total. Before there was a ticket system, the department counted only people in attendance.


Marketing graduate assistant Nicole Sack said attendance might not be at its highest because of a decline in student enrollment. There were roughly 4,000 fewer students at SIU in 2013 than there were 15 years ago.

Football attendance peaked in 2010, averaging 10,890 spectators per game, while men’s basketball peaked in 2006-07, averaging 7,743 spectators.

Despite the decline, Sack said the numbers are still good.

She said her department has taken students’ preferences into consideration, which helped attendance.

“One of the biggest things that we were hearing from students is that there is no way they were going to make it to a 2 p.m. football game since they’re sleeping,” Sack said.

Sack said the marketing department does not want to change students’ habits to get them to come to games, which is why five of the six home football games started in the evening.

“Within the first four games, we had surpassed our entire season from the previous year in attendance,” she said.


One group on campus that helps boost student attendance at athletic events and keep up with Saluki spirit is the Dawg Pound, a student-run organization that allows its members the opportunity to claim tickets early and get guaranteed access to games. Members can sign in at the games to get points and earn prizes.

Former Dawg Pound president Sam Donets said the group was created in about 2002.

Its current president, Jake Holtkamp, a senior from Centralia studying marketing,  has been involved with the group since his freshman year.

“I feel like we have done a good job getting students involved,” Holtkamp said. “I wanted to keep that going as long as I am a student here”

A $15 Dawg Pound membership also includes invitations to members-only events, priority seating, a 10 percent discount on apparel at 710 Bookstore and an official Under Armour T-shirt.

The Dawg Pound can only do so much, though. Some students have never attended a Saluki athletic event during their time at SIU. 

Kaitlyn Grimwood, a senior from Mount Carmel studying journalism, is one of those students.

Grimwood attended a football game before she was a student at SIU, but has not been to any sporting event since because she is not a fan.

“I guess part of it would be because [SIU] isn’t playing that well,” Grimwood said.

The Dawg Pound is currently looking for executive officers. Anyone who is interested can email Jake Holtkamp at [email protected].

Melanie Early can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269