LAFAYETTE — The NCAA released its attendance figures from the 2014-15 basketball season Monday, and the Louisiana-Lafayette men finished as the Sun Belt’s top team.
An average of 3,987 fans attended the Cajuns’ 16 home contests last season, according to the report, nearly double that of Louisiana-Monroe, which drew the second-highest SBC average at 2,064. The Cajuns’ figure was good for third in the state behind LSU (8,897) and Louisiana Tech (4,243).
The SBC did not draw particularly well in 2014-15. Of the 32 Division I conferences ranked, the SBC checked in at No. 23, averaging 2,039 fans per game. That figure is 499 fewer than last season’s total and was the third-largest drop in the nation.
Included in the conference’s attendance figures was the league tournament, which drew just 1,355 per session. It was the second-lowest average among Division I conference tournaments, beating only the Northeast Conference’s.
New Orleans has hosted the SBC tournament each of the past two seasons. With the contract between the Sun Belt and Lakefront Arena set to expire after this season, the conference could explore other options.
Syracuse led the nation in attendance with an average of 23,854 fans per game, its second straight year leading the NCAA. Kentucky, which led the country for eight straight years before Syracuse’s run, was second.
The NCAA also released its women’s basketball attendance figures Monday. Georgia Southern led the SBC with an average of 1,949 fans — a nearly 500 percent increase from the year before, when it averaged 407.
The Cajuns women played in front of 787 on average, ranking eighth in the conference. Only Troy (659), Georgia State (619) and Appalachian State (412) drew fewer.
The SBC stacked up to other conferences much better in women’s basketball than it did in men’s basketball, ranking 11th in attendance out of the 32 Division I conferences ranked.
South Carolina (12,293) had the nation’s highest average attendance, the first time since 1994 that a team other than Tennessee or Connecticut led the way. The Lady Volunteers had led the nation for 11 consecutive years.
Social Suite to return
The SBC announced Monday that the Social Suite would return for its second year, in addition to two hours of commercial-free coverage online at ESPN3 during SBC football media day July 20.
The Social Suite is hosted by Sun Belt Network reporter Danielle Jenkins and offers fans a chance to pose their own questions to coaches and athletes via social media. The Social Suite will have two separate two-hour sessions — 10 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 3 p.m. — and fans can ask questions via Twitter using the hashtag #SunBeltMediaDay.
The ESPN3 broadcast will air from 1 to 3 p.m. and will feature interviews with all 11 coaches as well as SBC Commissioner Karl Benson.
SUN BELT ATTENDANCE FIGURES
Men’s basketball (average fans per home game)
Texas State: 2,009
Georgia Southern: 1,966
Georgia State: 1,869
Arkansas State: 1,856
South Alabama: 1,704
Appalachian State: 1,619
Women’s basketball (average fans per home game)
Georgia Southern: 1,949
Texas State: 1,901
Arkansas State: 1,472
South Alabama: 1,433
Georgia State: 619
Appalachian State: 412