The Coyotes also were 14th nationally in average attendance with a mark of 7,597 spectators per contest.
"The success of the student-athletes and the team has re-energized the DakotaDome," said USD Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen. "Also, the great interaction our coaching staff has developed with the campus community and our statewide Coyote fan base has made a tremendous difference of increasing the excitement surrounding our program."
This is the second straight year that USD football stood in the top-20 in the nation in average attendance. In 2005, USD ranked higher than 66 NCAA Division I-AA schools, and even topped two NCAA Division I-A institutions. In addition, the Coyotes had the best average attendance figure of the four NCAA institutions in the state of South Dakota.
The mark of 7,597 was an average increase of 1,215 fans per game over 2004's mean of 6,382, which was 16th in the country. The recent jump in attendance is even more noticeable considering in 2003, the Coyotes averaged 4,342 spectators per contest in the DakotaDome, which stands as an increase of 75.0 percent in just two years.
"I am very proud of this accomplishment," said USD head coach Ed Meierkort. "The DakotaDome is not only a first-class facility, but has a first-class atmosphere. This growth in attendance could not have been done without the commitment of our great fans. I appreciate the support the Coyote fans have given us, and what they will offer in the future."
To coincide with its position in the national attendance figures, the USD Athletic Department is unrolling a season ticket campaign based around the concept of "commitment," to help the Coyotes not only maintain their spot near the top of the leaderboard, but also to reach the goal of selling out the entire section of season tickets in the reserved seating area.
Television advertisements will start airing on local channels in the near future, and the radio airwaves will also include promotional spots featuring members of the USD Athletic Department, former student-athletes and supporters of the athletic department. In addition, plans call for carrying the "committed" campaign promotion on CoyoteVision prior to the start of events in the DakotaDome.
"The recent improvements that have been made at the DakotaDome, including the addition of CoyoteVision allowing the fans to see ?instant replay' on the board, makes the game day experience for our fans as good as any place in the nation, regardless of level," said Nielsen.
To order or get additional information about South Dakota season tickets and tailgating opportunities call (605) 677-5959. The football schedule features six home games this year, starting with a special Thursday night non-conference contest against Quincy, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m., on Aug. 31 in the DakotaDome.