Ranking The Best Universities for Sports Fans

Last Updated on June 14, 2023

College sports is a vital step for athletes to develop and work toward their dream destination of playing professionally in leagues like the NBA and NFL. But the college game is a prime destination itself, providing compelling entertainment for millions of fans across the United States, featuring rivalries like UNC-Duke and Ohio State-Michigan and up-and-coming tournaments like the women’s March Madness tournament. From recruiting battles to tailgates and the excitement of game day to tracking college football odds, the college sports landscape is always active. 

Which schools are the dream sites for passionate sports fans? These are 10 of the best universities at providing the best experience for sports fans.

  1. University of Michigan

With crowds averaging over 110,000 for home football games in 2022, this great university is a sports powerhouse with a decorated history of graduates who have gone on to achieve great things.

As well as being a regular contender in the competitive Big Ten, their sports program boasts an 80% graduation rate from its student athletes. This highlights the great work the university does to not only treat passionate sports fans to great games and matchups, but also for a top-tier education at the same time.

  1. Ohio State University

With over 2,500 student athletes across their sports teams at the university, Ohio State is a popular choice for top recruits. Their football team’s rivalry with Michigan is legendary, a yearly matchup that college football fans always put on their calendars and captures national attention. Like their rivals up north, Ohio State attracted over 100,000 fans every home game in 2022 as well as have around 30,000 student season ticket holders. 

  1. University of Florida

Like Michigan, the University of Florida is a great football university as well as offering excellent basketball and Olympic sports as well. The fans flock to the venues on gameday in a uniquely Floridian party atmosphere and pack the swamp, which averaged over 87,000 fans last season.

Florida’s titles speak for themselves. The Gators are prolific across its sports offerings, bringing in 26 titles since 2008-09 alone. Their streak of success in football and men’s basketball, which included titles in both sports in 2006 and a repeat in men’s basketball in 2007, also proved that it is a prime destination for sports fans.

  1. University of Connecticut

What makes this university stand out is that there are no male professional teams in the area, meaning fans will flock to support the university’s teams every home game. 

UConn boasts some of the best sports programs in the nation, especially on the court. Basketball is the big draw at UConn with both their male and female teams being competitive every year and producing NBA stars like Ray Allen, Kemba Walker and Richard ‘Rip’ Hamilton.The Huskies most recently powered through the men’s bracket in March Madness, winning its fifth national championship. They’ll still need six to match the women’s team, though, one of the greatest dynasties in college sports history.

  1. Duke University

Duke University is one of the top universities in the country academically and offers athletes excellent basketball, soccer and volleyball offerings amongst a great range of sports. 

Sports fans looking for great experiences can look forward to the hotly-contested battles between Duke and Research Triangle rival UNC, which is preceded by students camping outside for tickets. Even with the retirement of famed basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, the basketball tradition, which includes five national titles, definitely keeps Duke at the forefront of the college sports map.

  1. University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame offers a great range of sports options for student athletes and fans in both revenue and non-revenue sports. Like Michigan and Duke, top notch academics ensure that sports fans get the best of both worlds.

Along with having nationally relevant football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams, they have a strong athletics tradition and produce sports legends like Joe Montana and Jerome Bettis, as well as offer excellent fencing, lacrosse and hockey teams. Notre Dame football games are a hot ticket in the Midwest, with an average of more than 75,000 fans to the Fighting Irish’s 2022 home games.

  1. University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Los Angeles offers sports fans a tantalizing combination of competitive sports, outstanding education programs and lovely southern California weather. UCLA is extremely successful too, with 100 NCAA team championships to its name and one of the most storied men’s basketball programs. For a change of pace, fans can watch some of the best professional sports teams in the NFL, NBA and MLB on their doorstep.

8. Stanford University

Competing with UCLA, Stanford is recognized for its academic excellence along with its exceptional sporting programs. The Cardinal holds NCAA records for the most individual game titles and group titles and makes up for inconsistent football and men’s basketball with dominant Olympic sports offerings. Men’s golf, swimming, water polo as well as the women’s swimming and tennis programs are among Stanford’s most successful programs on a national level. It ranks alongside Duke and Indiana in the tie for fourth most all-time.

  1. University of North Carolina

Fans on the other side of the Duke-UNC rivalry also have a great setup for watching sports. Legendary athletes like Michael Jordan and Lawrence Taylor once wore Carolina blue, and both revenue and non-revenue sports are routinely among the best in the ACC. 

The Tar Heels have 49 national championships across all of its sports teams, including six in men’s basketball. In 2022, UNC ranked fourth in the nation in average attendance for its men’s basketball games, attracting a total of 315,115 spectators and averaging 18,536.

  1. University of Texas

The University of Texas dedicates a lot of its focus to the nine-time national champion football program, but also offers great options for other athletes in different sports for men and women. Texas boasts a top performing track and field program as well as producing quality Olympic athletes.

Along with track and field, the Longhorns have excellent baseball and basketball programs as well as golf, swimming and diving. Still, football is king. In a state as crazed about football as Texas, football games somehow live up to the hype with over 100,000 fans attending Longhorn games in 2022.

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