College Football Gameday Safety

College Football Gameday Safety

Analyzing which schools had the least, most incidents on campus on gamedays in 2017
August 30, 2018

When it comes to tailgating, college football does it best. Every Saturday throughout the season, alums, students and other fans gather together on college campuses to support team traditions, show off school pride and attend all-day affairs filled with food, drinks and music. Tailgating on gameday—and the culture surrounding it—is deeply-rooted into institutions all across the country.

But as thousands fill college towns for gameday each weekend, the sudden spike in local traffic, alcohol consumption and overall mayhem creates a weekly challenge for campus law enforcement.

Sports Illustrated compiled campus police records from 33 of the biggest football schools in the country to determine the number and type of incidents that occurred across campus during each gameday of the 2017 season. The results, shown below in ascending order of incident rate (the number of incidents per thousand fans each gameday, defined further below), are an illustration of college football gameday misconduct and provide a look into the safety of campuses during tailgate season across the country.

The average total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays was 139.4 incidents. Alabama led the group of schools with the most total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays with 448, while N.C. State reported the highest incident rate among the schools.

Typically, a higher number of reported incidents was correlated with a stricter policy on underage alcohol enforcement and the schools with the highest incident rates reported hundreds of alcohol-related incidents. Universities on the opposite end of the spectrum—those reporting 50 incidents or less over the season—reported markedly lower numbers of alcohol offenses. For example, underage drinking offenses made up only 17% of total offenses at Arkansas, one of the schools with the least reported incidents on gamedays last year.

Definitions

Incident rate: The number of incidents per thousand fans each gameday. This was calculated by multiplying the average number of incidents on campus per gameday by 1,000, and dividing that number by average attendance.

For example, Florida State reported a total number of 95 incidents over six gamedays last season, which is an average of 15.8 incidents per gameday. Florida State's average game attendance is 70,943. The school’s incident rate is calculated as 0.223, which is lower than UCF’s incident rate of 0.402, which reported a total of 89 incidents and an average of 14.83 incidents per gameday, but averaged approximately 34,000 fewer fans per game.

Time frame: Data sourced from 2017 campus police logs and the 2017-18 college football season schedules. Hours were set from late morning (after 10 a.m.) on the day of the game, to early morning (4 a.m.) the next day. This timeframe was set to include any campus activity in the hours before and after the kickoff time on gameday. Any campus incidents reported during this time were included in our report. The average number of incidents per season was 139.

Incident categories + key

Alcohol: minor-in-possession, fake ID, public intoxication, DUI and other alcohol-related incidents. For example, some schools would list these incidents as "alcohol violations" or "drunkenness”

Drugs: drug possession, paraphernalia possession, intent to sell

Theft: any incident labeled as theft, larceny or burglary

Property: vandalism, breaking and entering, damaged property. Some schools listed this as "property crime."

Disturbance/disorderly: Including shut down parties, loud and reckless, disturbing the peace, fraud (selling of fake gear), harassment

Violence: assault, any weapons-related charges, sexual assault, rape, fights, battery

Traffic/vehicle: speeding, traffic crashes, parking offenses. Some schools listed as "traffic" or "vehicle incident" on their reports.

Medical: Sick or injured person, mental health calls (suicide threats, Marshall Act), welfare checks for incidents not linked to alcohol

Warrant: arrests made on warrant 

Questions

How was this data compiled? Due to the Clery Act, schools are required to publish a daily police log of all occurrences on campus. Sports Illustrated obtained these records online or directly from university police departments, then pulled data for each gameday (as defined by the time frame above).

What patterns emerged from week to week? Most schools saw the same pattern each season: incidents peaked in the first two or three games, then slowly tapered off, with the exception of a spike on the day of a rivalry game or major upset. According to officials at these universities, incidents typically peak at the start of the season for several reasons.

A team’s home opener is typically one of the most highly attended games of the season, and after the long drought of the offseason, fans are often both exuberant and unprepared, which can result in over imbibing and rowdy behavior. Additionally, these games take place during the hottest weather of the season, which causes a spike in need for medical assistance, particularly in schools in the south where temperatures can top out in the upper 90s in September.

To combat these two issues, campus police departments typically create a stronger enforcement plan for incident-prone gamedays. This means that police often intervene at a higher rate at the start of the season and during rivalry gamedays in order to prevent escalation and ensure that drunk fans don’t enter the stadium.

Should fans be concerned if their school has a higher incident rate? Not necessarily. However, if your school reports a higher incident rate, it might be a sign to be more careful about how you consume alcohol this season.

A higher number of reported incidents was typically correlated with a stricter policy on underage alcohol enforcement. The schools that reported the highest rates reported hundreds of alcohol related arrests. Texas A&M, for instance, made nearly 200 minor-in-possession arrests last season.

Other schools are less punitive on underage drinking and other alcohol offenses. The University of Nebraska, for instance, partners with a local non-profit called The Bridge to provide care to over-intoxicated fans. When officers transport fans to the Bridge, they are not cited; instead, the organization notes where the patient received alcohol to collect data for the police. This can explain why Nebraska has one of the top five lowest incident rates out of all 33 schools.

How do students fit into all of this? The main incident linked to students is widespread underage drinking on gamedays. The vast majority of college football fans, however, aren’t students. Alumni, families and locals typically account for over 70% of attendance, especially at programs with major fan support from their local communities, such as South Carolina and Nebraska. Gameday safety policies accordingly have to be written and enforced with the entire fanbase in mind.


 

Oklahoma
Incident rate: 0.05

Conference: Big 12

Undergraduate student body (2017): 21,844

Average game attendance (2017): 86,520

Location type: City

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 26

Number incidents per gameday: 4.33

Over six home games, campus police reported 15 alcohol-related incidents, four disorderly incidents, four vehicle-related incidents, two thefts and one drug-related incident.

 

Florida
Incident rate: 0.07

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 34,554

Average game attendance (2017): 86,715

Location type: Suburban

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 44

Number incidents per gameday: 6.3



Over seven home games, campus police reported 16 alcohol-related incidents, six thefts, nine disorderly incidents, five property-related incidents, four drug-related incidents and four violent incidents.

 

Washington
Incident rate: 0.102

Conference: Pac-12

Undergraduate student body (2017): 30,933

Average game attendance (2017): 68,822

Location type: Urban

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays:  42

Number incidents per gameday: 7

Over six home games, campus police reported 32 disorderly incidents, four thefts, five violent incidents and one drug-related incident.

 

Nebraska
Incident rate: 0.103

Conference: Big 10

Undergraduate student body (2017): 20,833

Average game attendance (2017): 90,200

Location type: City

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 65

Number incidents per gameday: 9.29

Over seven home games, campus police reported 34 alcohol-related incidents, seven violent incidents, six drug-related incidents, eight thefts, seven property crimes and three disorderly incidents.

In a report on Big 10 game day safety, Nebraska also recorded 25 stadium arrests and 141 stadium ejections. Additionally, campus police reported 17 medical transports for over intoxication.

 

Texas
Incident rate: 0.104

Conference: Big 12

Undergraduate student body (2017): 40,168

Average game attendance (2017): 92,778

Location type: Urban

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 58

Number incidents per gameday: 9.67

Over six home games, campus police reported 28 alcohol-related incidents, nine violent incidents, 11 drug-related incidents, six disorderly incidents and four thefts.

 

 

Arkansas
Incident rate: 0.106

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 22,548

Average game attendance (2017): 63,224

Location type: City

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 47

Number incidents per gameday: 6.71

Over seven home games, campus police reported 25 alcohol-related incidents, 16 disorderly incidents, three drug-related incidents, two thefts and one violent incident.

 

 

Mississippi State
Incident rate: 0.110

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 18,090

Average game attendance (2017): 58,100

Location type: Rural

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 45

Number incidents per gameday: 6.4

Over seven home games, campus police reported 16 theft incidents, 13 disorderly incidents, 10 alcohol-related incidents, four drug-related incidents and two violent incidents. Underage consumption accounted for one (10%) of the alcohol-related incidents.

 

 

Oklahoma State
Incident rate: 0.151

Conference: Big 12

Undergraduate student body (2017): 25,594

Average game attendance (2017): 56,790

Location type: City

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 52

Number incidents per gameday: 8.6

Over six home games, campus police reported 38 alcohol-related incidents, six vehicle-related incidents, three property crimes, three violent incidents, one theft and one incident classified as “miscellaneous.” One of the violent incidents was a sexual assault.

 

Oregon
Incident rate: 0.157

Conference: Pac-12

Undergraduate student body (2017): 20,049

Average game attendance (2017): 55,483

Location type: City

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 61

Number incidents per gameday: 8.7

Over seven home games, campus police reported 14 thefts, 11 disturbances, 11 violent incidents, nine alcohol-related incidents, nine property crimes and seven drug-related incidents.

 

Iowa
Incident rate: 0.158

Conference: Big 10

Undergraduate student body (2017): 24,476

Average game attendance (2017): 66,337

Location type: City

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays:  74

Number incidents per gameday: 10.5

Over seven home games, campus police reported 49 alcohol-related incidents, 11 thefts, four disorderly incidents, five drug-related incidents and five violent incidents. 

 

Purdue
Incident rate: 0.164

Conference: Big 10

Undergraduate student body (2017): 41,573

Average game attendance (2017): 47,883

Location type: Suburban

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 47

Number incidents per gameday: 7.83

Over six home games, campus police reported 26 alcohol-related incidents, 11 drug-related incidents, four violent incidents, three thefts and three disorderly incidents.

 

Ohio State
Incident rate: 0.165

Conference: Big 10

Undergraduate student body (2017): 45,946

Average game attendance (2017): 107,495

Location type: Urban

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 124

Number incidents per gameday: 17.7

Over six home games, campus police reported 44 alcohol-related incidents, 34 disorderly incidents, 19 thefts, seven violent incidents, seven drug-related incidents, five property-related incidents, five welfare incidents and three vehicle-related incidents. 

 

 

LSU
Incident rate: 0.176

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 25,446

Average game attendance (2017): 98,506

Location type: Urban

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 104

Number incidents per gameday: 17.3

Over six home games, campus police reported 20 welfare incidents, 20 warrant arrests, 20 disorderly incidents, 18 property crimes, 11 vehicle-related incidents, eight drug-related incidents, six violent incidents and one alcohol-related incident. One of the violent incidents was a sexual assault.

 

Notre Dame
Incident rate: 0.182

Conference: N/A (Division I FBS Independents)

Undergraduate student body (2017): 8,530  

Average game attendance (2017): 77,622

Location type: City

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 99

Number incidents per gameday: 14.14

Over seven home games, campus police reported 50 alcohol-related incidents, 18 thefts, 13 property crimes, 12 violent incidents, four disorderly incidents and two drug-related incidents. Underage consumption accounted for 30 (59%) of the alcohol-related incidents. One of the violent incidents was a sexual assault.

 

Clemson
Incident rate: 0.189

Conference: ACC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 19,402

Average game attendance (2017): 80,773

Location type: Suburban

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays:  107

Number incidents per gameday: 15.3

Over seven home games, campus police reported 56 disorderly incidents, 14 alcohol-related incidents, 10 thefts, nine drug-related incidents, eight violent incidents, five welfare-related incidents and five vehicle-related incidents. Underage consumption accounted for one of the alcohol-related incidents.

 

Michigan State
Incident rate: 0.189

Conference: Big 10

Undergraduate student body (2017): 38,996

Average game attendance (2017): 72,485

Location type: Suburban

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 96

Number incidents per gameday: 13.7

Over seven home games, campus police reported 51 alcohol-related incidents, 22 thefts, eight violent incidents, seven property crimes, four drug-related incidents and four disorderly incidents. There were no reports logged for a gameday on November 18

 

Georgia
Incident rate: 0.203

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 28,848

Average game attendance (2017): 92,746

Location type: City

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays:  113

Number incidents per gameday: 18.8

Over six home games, campus police reported nine drug-related offenses; 12 welfare incidents; 38 alcohol-related offenses; 20 vehicle incidents; 17 thefts, robberies or burglaries; and four violent offenses.

 

Florida State
Incident rate: 0.223

Conference: ACC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 32,812

Average game attendance (2017): 70,943

Location type: City

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 95

Number incidents per gameday: 15.8

Over six home games, police responded to 26 reports of a sick/injured/intoxicated student; 23 alcohol-related incidents; 23 disorderly incidents; three drug offenses; three vehicle offenses; nine theft incidents and eight violence incidents.

 

South Carolina
Incident rate: 0.23

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 25,556

Average game attendance (2017): 78,586

Location type: City           

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 124

Number incidents per gameday: 17.7

Over seven home games, campus police reported 70 alcohol-related incidents, 19 drug-related incidents, 12 thefts, 11 disorderly incidents, six violent incidents, three vehicle incidents and three for property crime. One of the violent incidents was a sexual assault.

 

Tennessee
Incident rate: 0.248

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 22,317

Average game attendance (2017): 95,779

Location type: Urban       

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 167

Number incidents per gameday: 23.8

Over seven home games, campus police reported 118 alcohol-related incidents, 16 disorderly incidents, 13 thefts, seven violent incidents, five drug-related incidents, four vehicle-related incidents and four property crimes. Additionally, the university reported 27 stadium arrests and 51 stadium ejections. 

 

West Virginia
Incident rate: 0.261

Conference: Big 12

Undergraduate student body (2017): 22,350

Average game attendance (2017): 55,946

Location type: Suburban 

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 102

Number incidents per gameday: 14.6

 Over seven home games, campus police reported 38 alcohol-related incidents, 14 disorderly incidents, 18 drug-related incidents, nine vehicle-related incidents, nine violent incidents, eight thefts, four property-related incidents and two welfare incidents. Three of the violent incidents were sexual assaults. Additionally, campus police recorded 13 medical transports for over intoxication.

 

USC
Incident rate: 0.268

Conference: Pac-12

Undergraduate student body (2017): 19,000

Average game attendance (2017): 72,683

Location type: Urban       

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 137

Number incidents per gameday: 19.5

Over seven home games, campus police reported 40 alcohol-related incidents, 25 disorderly incidents, 20 thefts, 21 property crimes, 18 welfare incidents, four vehicle-related incidents, seven violent incidents and two drug-related incidents. One of the violent incidents was sexual assault. Additionally, campus police recorded 12 medical transports for over intoxication.

 

Michigan
Incident rate: 0.284

Conference: Big 10

Undergraduate student body (2017): 29,821

Average game attendance (2017): 111,589

Location type: City

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 190

Number incidents per gameday: 31.67

Over six home games, campus police reported 80 alcohol-related incidents, 46 vehicle-related incidents, 31 disorderly incidents, 15 thefts, nine drug-related incidents, six violent incidents and three property crimes. Three of the violent crimes were sexual assaults.

In a report on Big 10 game day safety, Michigan also recorded 15 stadium arrests and 139 stadium ejections. Additionally, campus police reported 16 medical transports for over-intoxication.

 

Auburn
Incident rate: 0.382

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 23,964

Average game attendance (2017): 86,446

Location type: Suburban 

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 231

Number incidents per gameday: 33

Over seven games, campus police reported 150 alcohol-related incidents, 31 disorderly incidents, 22 thefts, 14 violent incidents, five drug-related incidents, five property crimes and four vehicle related incidents. One of the violent incidents was sexual assault.

 

UCF
Incident rate: 0.40

Conference: AAC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 55,773

Average game attendance (2017): 36,846

Location type: Suburban 

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 89

Number incidents per gameday: 14.83

Over six home games, campus police reported 63 alcohol-related incidents, 11 disorderly incidents, nine thefts, five violent incidents and one drug-related incident. One of the violent offenses was a sexual assault.

 

Texas A&M
Incident rate: 0.416

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 68,625

Average game attendance (2017): 98,802

Location type: City

Number of home games: 8

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 329

Number incidents per gameday: 41.1

Over eight home games, campus police reported 263 alcohol-related incidents, 19 thefts, 14 violent incidents, 14 disorderly incidents, 12 vehicle-related offenses and seven drug-related incidents.

 

Ole Miss
Incident rate: 0.495

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 18,517

Average game attendance (2017): 58,631

Location type: Rural

Number of home games: 8

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 232

Number incidents per gameday: 29

Over eight home games, campus police reported 119 alcohol incidents, 36 vehicle-related offenses, 36 disorderly incidents, 14 violent incidents, 11 property incidents, 11 drug-related incidents and five thefts. Additionally, campus police recorded 41 medical transports for over intoxication.

 

Arizona
Incident rate: 0.51

Conference: Pac-12

Undergraduate student body (2017): 44,831

Average game attendance (2017): 42,632

Location type: City           

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 130

Number incidents per gameday: 21.7

Over six home games, campus police reported 38 alcohol-related incidents, 34 disorderly incidents, 27 property crimes, 15 thefts, six drug-related incidents, six violent incidents and two vehicle-related incidents. Underage drinking offenses accounted for 28 of the 38 alcohol-related incidents.

 

Wisconsin
Incident rate: 0.55

*Data pulled from both city and campus police.

Conference: Big 10

Undergraduate student body (2017): 29,931

Average game attendance (2017): 78,824

Location type: City

Number of home games: 7

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 303

Number incidents per gameday: 43.3

Wisconsin was unique to all of the other schools in the report, because it recorded information from both the city and campus police in its crime logs.

Over seven home games, the two departments reported 163 disorderly incidents, 65 alcohol-related incidents, 39 thefts, 16 property crimes, 12 drug-related incidents and eight violent incidents. Additionally, in a report on Big 10 game day safety, Wisconsin also recorded 137 stadium arrests and 167 stadium ejections. 

 

Iowa State
Incident rate: 0.699

Conference: Big 12

Undergraduate student body (2017): 30,671

Average game attendance (2017): 57,931

Location type: City           

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 243

Number incidents per gameday: 40.5

Over six home games, campus police reported 212 alcohol-related incidents, 14 thefts, six disorderly incidents, two property crimes, four violent incidents, three drug-related incidents and two vehicle-related incidents.

 

Alabama
Incident rate: 0.733

Conference: SEC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 32,563

Average game attendance (2017): 101,722

Location type: Suburban

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 448

Number incidents per gameday: 74.6

Over six home games, campus police reported 165 disorderly incidents, 95 welfare-related incidents, 82 alcohol-related incidents, 30 vehicle-related incidents, 66 property crimes, six violent incidents and four drug-related incidents.

 

Virginia Tech
Incident rate: 0.753

Conference: ACC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 27,140

Average game attendance (2017): 63,214

Location type: Rural         

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 286

Number incidents per gameday: 47.6

Over six home games, campus police reported 247 alcohol-related incidents, 15 thefts, 10 disorderly incidents, seven violent incidents, six drug-related incidents and one property crime. Underage drinking offenses accounted for 50 (23%) of the alcohol-related incidents. Two of the violent offenses were sexual assaults.

 

NC State
Incident rate: 0.858

Conference: ACC

Undergraduate student body (2017): 23,847

Average game attendance (2017): 56,850

Location type: City           

Number of home games: 6

Total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays: 293

Number incidents per gameday: 48.8

Over six home games, campus police reported 141 disorderly incidents, 119 alcohol-related incidents, 11 violent incidents, 15 vehicle-related incidents, three drug incidents, two thefts and two property crimes. Four of the violent offenses were sexual assaults.

 

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)