Midnight Madness Rebranded
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2013 01:10
With all the change in the landscape of college sports, it may seem trivial that Georgetown has announced that Midnight Madness — traditionally the first official practice of the season for men’s and women’s basketball — will now be called Basketball Tip Off. But sometimes, even a cosmetic adjustment can be revealing.
The substance of the event is largely similar to its predecessor, featuring player introductions and a high-profile hip-hop artist, whose name has yet to be released. Like in years past, the event will draw on performances from student groups. The only difference in this year’s event — which opens at 7:30 p.m. to students for no charge — is that there will be no tailgate beforehand.
Georgetown switched to Basketball Tip Off in a move of solidarity with the rest of the Big East, a conference that bore the brunt of conference realignment. But the name of the annual celebration isn’t the only change to the start of this basketball season. For one, the NCAA changed its practice schedule for basketball, allowing teams to begin practicing earlier
In a larger sense, the name change reflects a new direction of the Big East, one that has moved hand-in-hand with Fox Sports 1, Fox’s recently launched sports network. FS1 has agreed to televise Big East basketball games after the conference’s contract with ESPN expired last year. This year, FS1 will air a live show of all 10 Basketball Tip Offs.
“[Basketball Tip Off] is not just a superficial name change,” Pete Kirschner, senior director of marketing, said. “It’s something Fox is doing with all the Big East schools. On Oct. 25, when they are [at Georgetown], they will also be present at nine other schools.”
Conference realignment and new NCAA regulations have prompted several schools to launch the start of their seasons differently, but many high profile basketball schools — including Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke — will continue with their traditional Midnight Madness routines. Despite changes to the practice schedule, Midnight Madness has become so ingrained as an annual event that it has distanced itself from marking the first official practice of the season.
“From a marketing standpoint, Fox is more engaged with us,” Kirschner said. “And it’s their first year [as a network].”
Looking forward, Georgetown has much to be excited about. The program escaped a particularly brutal wave of conference realignment, one that pinched basketball schools like Georgetown in favor of football-centric athletic programs. However, FS1 has offered a new breath of life for basketball-minded school, who have banded together in the new rendition of the Big East.
“Everyone associated with Georgetown and the Big East is excited to partner with Fox,” Assistant Athletics Director of Communications Mex Carey said. “We’re excited to create a new relationship with them as they dive into college basketball as one of their primary sports.”
Basketball Tip Off is just the beginning.