It wasn’t just the average fan that stopped coming to Kentucky home games by the end of last season, there also was a significant drop in student attendance in the final season under Coach Joker Phillips.
An open records request by the Herald-Leader looking at student attendance for the past five seasons revealed that there was a 44 percent decline in students at home games from the time Phillips started in 2010 to his final season in 2012.
The decline was pretty steep from 2011 to 2012 as well, down 36 percent.
A story in the Knoxville paper this summer reported that in Derek Dooley’s final season with Tennessee, fewer than 5,000 students were in attendance each week. The Vols had one student ticket sellout (12,683) against Florida last season.
Kentucky football spokesman Tony Neely said students are allotted 10,000 tickets for each home football game, which includes the band. This past season, UK averaged less than half of that with 4,575 students. The low point of the past five years was the 3,729 students for the Vanderbilt loss.
The highest number of students in attendance during the past five years was 9,091 against Louisville in 2011, which helped bump up the average for that season to 7,154 per game.
There has been some renewed interest among students with the new staff in place. As of Monday, 3,722 student season tickets had been sold, just seven shy of the final student tally for the Vandy game last year.
Students aren’t necessarily big season ticket buyers, usually opting to buy single-game tickets instead. But UK’s athletic web site urges students to purchase a season ticket this season because of “anticipated high demand for 2013.” It notes that season tickets for students are $35 for all seven home games.
Individual student tickets will be sold once classes begin in late August.