festivities that surround the first college basketball practice
on many campus
es. Takes place at midnight
on the Saturday closest to October 15.
The idea started when Lefty Driesell was the coach at Maryland in 1970. NCAA rules stated that the first practice of the season could not occur until October 15. Taking advantage of the wording, Driesell decided to hold a mile run right at midnight of October 15, symbolically getting a head start on every other team which would practice later that day.
The next year, Driesell held the run in front of several hundred students and in 1972 decided to hold a midnight intrasquad scrimmage, which drew several thousand spectators.
Over the next few decades, dozens of other schools started their own versions of Midnight Madness, featuring giveaways, slam dunk contests, and other fun activities for the hundreds or thousands of fans in attendance. ESPN started broadcasting the event from campuses across the nation in the '90s, complete with the overexuberant Dick Vitale.
In 1997, the NCAA decided to change the date that practice can start from October 15 to the Saturday closest to October 15, so as to help allow more students to be able to attend the event.