The University Record, April 10, 2000

Men’s crew, lacrosse team opt out of Naked Mile

By Jane Elgass

The men’s crew (rowing) and lacrosse team will not participate in this year’s Naked Mile.

In a meeting held during the crew’s opening weekend of racing in Ithaca, N.Y., the crew team decided it will no longer take part in the event to which it has been linked over the past 15 years. The men’s lacrosse team has drawn the same conclusions, and will join in the boycott.

“The whole event has changed,” said crew president Greg Walker, a senior. “With the large crowds and the heavy emphasis on taking pictures for the Internet, the Naked Mile is no longer something the team wishes to be associated with. It used to be a fun outing, but for the past two years, it has become increasingly uncomfortable and unsafe. We don’t want our team to be linked with the circus the event has become.”

Crew Head Coach Gregg Hartstuff added: “I am glad the members of the team made this choice. When people think of Michigan men’s crew, and especially the University of Michigan, we don’t want their first thought to be of the Naked Mile. I’d much rather people associated our name with the team’s success and our outstanding athletes.

“I would encourage others who may be thinking about running the event to reconsider,” Hartstuff said. “Besides one’s personal safety being jeopardized, it gives the University an unnecessary black eye. Both of these are good reasons to not run the Naked Mile anymore.”

Lacrosse senior midfielder Ross Tucker said, “It’s just gotten to be a mess. The Naked Mile as it was started and intended doesn’t exist anymore. It’s unsafe, and it’s not something we want to be recognized for. It’s much more important to us that people focus on our positive accomplishments,” he added.

“I think the negative attention the run has been getting has opened the guys’ eyes,” said lacrosse Head Coach John Paul. “Most importantly, it’s become a dangerous event. They decided that it’s simply not that important to risk their safety and their reputations. Their focus right now is on a conference and possible national championship, which is right where I want their heads to be.”

The Naked Mile was begun in 1986 by 12 individuals, all housemates, and their friends, including members of both the U-M rowing team (UMRT, at that time a co-ed club team) and the men’s varsity track team. The group streaked down South University to celebrate the last day of winter term classes. The Naked Mile grew steadily throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, becoming a campus tradition in which the men and women of UMRT had a visible presence.

In the late 1990s, the crowds of spectators increased to include large numbers of people not associated with the University who were drawn to the event by increasing media coverage, sometimes national in scope. Over the past two years, the explosion of Internet Web sites devoted to the Naked Mile has changed the character of the event, team members said.

Michigan was 12th at last year’s National Collegiate Rowing Championships, and the only club team in the top 20. This year the team is ranked 18th in pre-season coaches’ polls. Senior Steve Warner is a candidate for the U.S. Olympic Team and the current World Indoor Rowing Champion in the collegiate lightweight division. Tim Peterson, a 1999 graduate, is in the final selection pool for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Quad in Augusta, Ga. Information on the crew is on the Web at www.umich.edu/~umrowing.

The lacrosse team is 12-3 overall and 7-0 in the Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association. It will defend its 1999 CCLA championship April 28–30 in Milwaukee, when members hope to cement a bid to return to the national tournament in St. Louis in May. For more information, visit the Web at www.umich.edu/~menslax/.