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The NCAA's attendance requirement for continued full-fledged status in the association's Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) can be met if a school averages 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for all home games one time during a rolling two-year period.
Twelve teams fell short of that goal last year and were sent a "courtesy letter" by the NCAA, reminding them of the requirement, NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said.
The schools averaging fewer than 15,000 were Bowling Green, Louisiana-Monroe, Ball State, Temple, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Utah State, Akron, Rice, Buffalo, Kent State and Eastern Michigan, which was last nationally at 5,219 a game. Six of the teams are in the Mid-American Conference, three in the Western Athletic Conference.
If schools do not meet the requirement this season, they will receive a letter of non-compliance, Christianson said, which triggers a 10-year period during which time they must meet the requirements or be placed in restricted membership. That would preclude them from bowl opportunities, though Akron was the only one of the 12 schools that qualified for a bowl last season. And that was Akron's first-ever bowl game.
"Should they get placed in restricted membership, they would have to correct the deficiency the following year or else they would lose their status as a Football Bowl Subdivision institution," Christianson said.