Years ago, the NCAA made an effort to distinguish between big time football programs and the not-so-big- time programs. They forcibly split Division I into Division I-A and Division I-AA.
As the years passed, more criteria were put in place to keep those divisions separated. To play at the DI-A level, schools had to have a stadium that seated 30,000. (This rule was an absolute disaster as struggling programs further injured their football programs by adding gross amounts of overflow end zone seating that would remain empty and drag down their efforts to build a fan base.)
The NCAA never acknowledged what an absolute disaster the 30,000 rule was for its borderline DI-A members but soon felt pressure from the BCS elites to put more teeth into their rules.
In this way, a 15,000 average attendance criteria replaced the 30,000 seat criteria as the stadium criteria for inclusion in the FBS ranks (formerly DI-A).
By 2005, there was an obvious problem. It was apparent that a lot of schools were not meeting the standard. The NCAA had no stomach for the lawsuits downgrading that many programs would create in the environment of the day.
They changed the criteria to be either a two-year rolling 15,000 average or one season of averaging 15,000 tickets sold.
There has been a lot of talk in favor of raising that number to 17,000, so for the purpose of this article, our Attendance Hall of Shame will be schools that averaged less than 17,000 last year.
With no further ado, the 17 FBS football programs that drew an average of less than 17,000 fans to see their games this year.