Let the Madness end

Across the country, schools in the NCAA are getting their fans excited for the upcoming basketball season by hosting Midnight Madness on Oct. 13.

USF isn’t one of them.

The event has been canceled this season due to declining attendance from fans and an increased focus on the football team.

Previously hosted by Student Government, Midnight Madness has been under the control of the Campus Activities Board for the past two seasons.

“(Midnight Madness) has been a popular event here at USF,” said Cindy Greenwood, senior program coordinator of the Office of Student Programs. “But with the event right in the middle of football season, not everyone is focused on basketball.”

Midnight Madness helps draw attention to the men’s and women’s basketball teams by holding an open practice for fans to see. Players from both teams are introduced, play a scrimmage and have a slam dunk contest.

Students were welcomed with chances to win scholarships from the USF Bookstore and other USF items, but the event primarily gave students a chance to see the players having fun in the Sun Dome.

While disappointed that his team is unable to participate in the event, men’s basketball coach Robert McCullum recognized the event was losing popularity.

“To a certain degree, I think it has lost a little bit of its luster,” McCullum said. “It was not a situation where we didn’t want to do it, but (I was) told that it was canceled.”

This isn’t the first time Midnight Madness has been cancelled on campus. The event took a hiatus in 1999 and 2000. In 2001, only 3,500 students came to the Sun Dome for the event.

After struggling to a 7-22 record during its first season in the Big East, McCullum regrets not having the opportunity to connect with fans. He would like to have the event rescheduled.

“If the event were to be held two weeks later, it would have been better for us,” McCullum said. “We have some players nursing some bruises, so not having it right now is what’s best for our team.”

The Campus Activities Board considered including the event as part of Homecoming Week, but decided against it as Ludacris may be coming to the Sun Dome on Friday, Nov. 3.

Although the Bulls won’t be hosting Midnight Madness this year, Greenwood hopes the event comes back to USF next season.

“The event just didn’t work out for us this year because of the timing,” Greenwood said. “But that doesn’t mean Midnight Madness is eliminated. We would love to put it back on next season.”