Whatever the real reasons are, the average attendance by students for Duke's men's basketball games — the famed Cameron Crazies — is down.
It's not a new problem, necessarily, but it was brought to light yet again in a piece by the Duke Chronicle, which reported that approximately 650 undergrads have attended each home game this year — 150 fewer than during the 2008-09 season.
In turn, the school — as it should — has turned the student absences into a nice opportunity for profit, selling roughly 300 general admission tickets per game in the 1,200-seat Section 17. They've been priced at $65 a pop.
"It has nothing to do with the revenue — We just want it to be full," Director of Marketing and Relations Mike Forman told the Chronicle. "If there were 1,200 students every game, we would love it."
The story comes roughly a week after 400 tickets were made available to the general public for Duke's blowout of Wake Forest, which was a result of the school's fraternity and sorority rush going on at the same time and the Demon Deacons' lack of appeal as a competitive opponent. With empty seats in Section 17, the story claims that Mike Krzyzewski even motioned across the court during the game, trying to get more noise from what was once, without question, the greatest sixth man in all of college hoops.
Several possible reasons for the drop-off are included in the story …
• As mentioned, WatchESPN.com making watching the game easier than ever before.
• Duke's lack of a marquee home schedule, both in conference and out of conference. The ACC is significantly down this season, while Duke has played more and more big nonconference games at Madison Square Garden.
• The "myths," including how much work allegedly needs to go into securing a seat, or that every seat is already taken if you show up to a game an hour before tip-off rather than when doors open.
"It does take a lot to go to K-Ville and wait outside, sometimes in the cold and in the rain, and then go into Cameron where you have to stand and jump up and down," co-head line monitor Ellie Garrett said. "Students need to realize that going to Cameron is … an awesome experience."
Yes, it appears awesome to everyone who's never been there. But that could be another reason: It's just not unique anymore.
Student sections around the country have not only copied certain aspects of the Cameron Crazies' game plan, but they've built on it. Now, sections such as The Show (San Diego State) or The Oakland Zoo (Pitt) can boast having just as much effect on the outcome of a game.
The athletic department's marketing staff will look closer at what's causing the decline in student turnout this offseason.
For now, though, Duke won't be changing a thing.
"Every other school in the country is playing canned music during timeouts, doing cheesy promotions," Forman said. "We try to stay away from that."
Follow Ryan Greene on Twitter: @ryanmgreene
- Cameron Crazies