- David Welch
Indiana Hoosiers Women’s Basketball Shattering Attendance Records
Photo by David Welch, Stadium Journey
“In 49 other states, it’s just basketball...but this is Indiana.” - Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame
They began lining up at 4:30 am, as 17,222 fans packed into Indiana University’s Simon Skjodt (pronounced Scott) Assembly Hall for the 2023 regular season finale against the in-state rival Purdue Boilermakers. This marked the first sellout of a women’s basketball game at Indiana University in its 52-season history.
While the Hoosiers have seen isolated spikes in attendance over the years, they have struggled to maintain that traction. Many of the large turnouts have been linked to promotions and have not been sustainable. However, the 2022-2023 team’s popularity has grown organically, and has been cultivated by Hoosiers’ head coach, Teri Moren.
Crowds and successes in Bloomington did not come overnight – only 2,472 fans turned out for Moren’s debut as head coach of the Hoosiers in 2014. That season, attendance peaked at 3,670 for their match up against Maryland; the average attendance per game came in at 2,609, putting Indiana in the lower third of the Big Ten.
Many of the lower attendance numbers changed after the program’s run to the 2018 WNIT championship – the following season saw the Hoosiers jump into the top half of average attendance in the conference.
The 2021-22 season would see the Hoosiers move into the top 3 in the Big Ten by attendance, drawing an average of 4,726 fans per night; this season that average has skyrocketed to 7,361 fans per game. Indiana joins just over a dozen women’s basketball programs in averaging more than 7,000 fans per game.
As the Hoosiers have been one of the up-and-coming women’s basketball programs in the nation, Moren is quick to credit the program’s former players in getting the Hoosiers to where they are today, “…it takes women before them to build the foundation and do the heavy lifting” she said of the support today’s Indiana women’s players receive.
During the 2022-23 season, Indiana women’s basketball topped the 100,000-fan mark for the first time in program history; the Hoosiers drew 117,781 fans over sixteen regular season home games. They have also set individual game attendance records on three separate occasions – first with 10,455 against Ohio State, topped two weeks later with 13,046 filling the stands when the Hoosiers hosted Iowa, and finally shattering that record 10 days later for their matchup with Purdue.
Courtesy of Indiana Athletics
When asked her thoughts on the sold-out Hall, Moren replied, “Finally, this is what it should look like. This is what women’s basketball should look like. It will be great to look back and say it was great when fans started showing up.”
It would be naïve to believe Indiana’s #2 ranking in the national polls is not a factor in the growth of popularity for women’s basketball in Bloomington, but the Hoosiers themselves have put forth a lot of work to build relationships throughout the community. For example, several players have teamed with the non-profit organization Hoosiers for Good, to help support those who support them.
It is evident that playing for Indiana University is special for this group of players; they have a genuine appreciation of what it means to wear “INDIANA” across their chests, and this is not lost on the fans. Following each game, the team pays their respects to the University as they interlock across the foul line and sing the school’s alma mater, “Hail to Old IU,” in solidarity with their teammates, the coaching staff, the cheerleaders, and the students and fans.
After Indiana’s second round win over Princeton in the 2022 NCAA women’s tournament, All-American and National Player of the Year candidate Mackenzie Holmes sprinted into the Indiana student section, to celebrate the win with her peers. It is personalities like this, along with the grittiness of Grace Burger, the passion of Sydney Parish, and all the Ali Pattburgs, Breana Wises, Amanda Cahills, and Tyra Busses who came before them to create the culture of Indiana women’s basketball, and the program that is so beloved today.