by Teddy Cahill
edited in part by Sarah Boswell
Ball State University
The sun shone brightly on the unseasonably warm fall afternoon. If it weren't for the leaves' changing colors, the day could have been plucked out of June, not October. On what might have been the last nice Saturday for months in Muncie, surely there would be plenty of fans in Scheumann Stadium to cheer on Ball State against Central Michigan. The Cardinals had a winning record and were in the hunt for a conference championship and a bowl game.
Yet hours after Ball State's winning game on Oct. 22, coach Pete Lembo and athletic director Tom Collins were disappointed by low attendance.
Even if Ball State had matched its season average, that would have left more than 53 percent of Scheumann Stadium empty. And it would have left the NCAA unsatisfied.
Most talk about schools potentially facing NCAA sanctions centers on illegal recruiting or impermissible contact between players and boosters. But for small Football Bowl Subdivision schools like Ball State and other members of the Mid-American Conference, an NCAA bylaw requiring a minimum average attendance at home football games must also be closely monitored.