Is N.C. A&T’s Poor Attendance at Basketball Games a Reflection on the School or the Team?

Corbett Sports Center, aka, “The Dawg Pound” for a long time has been known as one of the toughest gyms to play in, within the MEAC conference. On game nights, it was the place to be. Corbett was the place where all the Aggie students came out to enjoy a good basketball game and at the same time let out built up steam, perhaps from classes earlier in the day.

By excusing the screaming Aggies as simply “letting out some steam,” is a much nicer description than most opposing teams would recall, especially since the away team’s bench is purposely located directly beside the student section. This section on the lower right side is where intense A&T students—draped in blue and gold— unapologetically play mind games and berate opponents, dance wildly and chant emphatically.

Thus the birth of the famous nickname,“The Dawg Pound,” and great thanks can be given to the loud and sometimes obnoxious student-section, packed of crazed Aggie students and fans (which is very evident if you’re ever fortunate to witness the famous chant given by the crowd when an opposing player ever fouls-out during the game). “Once you’ve traveled around the MEAC once, you know you’re pretty fortunate,” said former Aggie men’s basketball player Marcus Williams in reference to the Corbett Sports Center.

The Dawg Pound even garnered comparisons to Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium “Cameron Crazies,” which is a student section that’s almost as famous as the Men’s team itself (this is Duke Men’s basketball team we’re talking about, so that’s quite an accomplishment).

Former WSSU point guard Isiah Tucker recalled his experience from his freshman year when the Rams had to visit the Dawg Pound. “That’s probably like the Cameron Indoor of this conference (MEAC). Then the whole fouling out thing they do, you don’t want to face that. That’s a game to remember.”

In 2010, ESPN columnist Kyle Whelliston chose Corbett Sports Center as one of his favorite college arena atmospheres. The Dawg Pound was even ranked 14th Best Atmosphere in the nation in an ESPN.com poll, separating them from others as the only HBCU mentioned in the poll.

There are multiple factors that can contribute to the poor attendance. For starters, the record for the Men’s basketball team has been one-sided for the past couple of years, (and by one-sided, I mean heavy on the loss column) the number of team losses doesn’t help to generate new fans.

This has been an underlying problem at A&T for many years now, and there’s also an annual lack of North Carolina-bred recruits. Unfortuantely, there are no hometown heroes for students, friends, families, local fans and alumni to support and feel a connection with at games in Corbett.

  • Xavier McBath – Contributor