Despite heavy rain in the days leading up to the first official on-campus tailgate, the Greek life community came out in large numbers Saturday morning, and students and university officials said they hope the event will be the first of many.
Held outside Comcast Center and co-sponsored by the Interfraternity Council, the Student Government Association, University Police and the athletic department, the tailgate saw more than 1,000 student attendees, said Eshe Hill, SGA communications director. The tailgate was only open to IFC members and their guests, but every IFC chapter that could come to the tailgate did, said Mike Sikorski, IFC external affairs vice president.
“We thought it went very well, given the scope of what was done,” University Police Maj. Marc Limansky said. “I look forward to working with them on future events.”
Each university body involved in planning the tailgate met extensively before Saturday to map out the event, “giving a little bit to get a lot” in a successful Greek event on the campus, Limansky said. No medical or alcohol-related issues were reported, he added.
“People were having a good time and really showing their school spirit,” he said.
Despite Terrapins fans’ enthusiasm, one aspect of the event was beyond university officials’ control. Better weather was the only thing that could have improved the tailgate, University Police Chief David Mitchell said. To help future tailgates function more smoothly, an alternative plan could be formed in case of rain, as the hundreds of students and guests tracked away a great deal of mud after the event, Sikorski said.
All parties involved in planning the tailgate will submit reports on how it went, Sikorski said, and tailgate coordinators plan to meet next week and discuss what went well and what could be improved.
“From the IFC, we thought it went extremely well,” he said.
As this university prepares to move to the Big Ten next year, moving tailgates onto the campus could encourage higher attendance at games — students had to show their ticket to Saturday’s football game against Virginia to be eligible to attend the tailgate, which officially ended at 3:15 p.m. to make sure students got to the game before kickoff, Sikorski said.
“Our event helped kind of combat the idea that students don’t want to go and support athletics,” said Josh Ratner, SGA student affairs vice president.
However, ESPN commentator and university alumnus Scott Van Pelt seemed to disagree about the presence of student fans at Saturday’s game, calling the lack of students in the crowd evidence of “home-field indifference.”
“It’s a three-hour investment of your time to cheer your team,” Van Pelt said during his broadcast Monday. “It’s not a burden.”
But Mitchell, also a university alumnus, said he was pleased to see Greek life members and their parents enjoying themselves on the campus before the game.
“They were absolutely having a great time,” Mitchell said. “To top it off, Maryland won, so it’s a good day.”