Skip Navigation

Produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Subscribe Now

Burning the Midnight Oil—At the Track

UMD Basketball to Revamp Tradition at Tonight's One-mile Run

By Annie Krakower

Midnight mile

Courtesy of University Archives

Terps basketball player Jim O'Brien crosses the finish line after running a mile under the watchful eye of head coach Lefty Driesell (left, in hat) and his assistants at the inaugural Midnight Madness on Oct. 15, 1971. Driesell (below) confers with assistant coaches at the event.

Any UMD student who happened by the football stadium at midnight 47 years ago would’ve encountered an unexpected sight: Amid the glow of cars’ headlights, members of head coach Lefty Driesell’s basketball squad were running around the track.

Driesell held the run at 12:03 a.m. on Oct. 15, 1971, the first possible day to hold practice that season, to establish an event called Midnight Madness. Although NCAA rules have changed to move up official practice days, several other colleges picked up the idea, which evolved into pep rally-style fan-fests around the country.

But tonight, in honor of Maryland basketball’s 100th season and newly inducted Naismith Hall of Famer Driesell, the Terps will revive the traditional run with the Midnight Mile at the Kehoe Track & Field Complex.

“Lefty was an innovator in the game of basketball, and Midnight Madness was one of the many ways he helped make Maryland a special program,” eighth-year head coach Mark Turgeon said. “I am excited that our guys will have the opportunity to interact with their classmates and be a part of such a unique event.” Lefty Dreisell

Hundreds of students caught wind of the madness that night in 1971, lining the track to watch as Driesell recorded splits on his stopwatch. By the next year, the midnight run had morphed into a scrimmage in Cole Field House.

Eventually, the team wanted the occasion to be more of a family affair, so they changed Midnight Madness to Maryland Madness and held it at a more reasonable hour. That annual event, in which the men’s and women’s basketball teams join with fans for a scrimmage, shooting contests and more, will take place this year at 8 p.m. Oct. 26 at Xfinity Center.

Tonight, though, will be a nod to the Terps’ running roots.

Gates at the track & field complex will open at 11:30 p.m., and players will be available for photos before the run takes off just after midnight. All are welcome, and members of the Pride, UMD’s official athletics student support group, will join the team for the one-mile run.



Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.