LEUZZI: So why is Marquette Madness cancelled really?


Marquette Madness will not take place in 2022. (Marquette Wire Stock Photo)

I forgot about the excitement around Marquette Madness. In fact, I had to think back to my first year at Marquette in 2019.

For almost two hours before the event kicked off, 12th Street from Wisconsin to Wells was closed down for a “street fair” that consisted of food vendors and activities, including a 50-foot Ferris wheel.

Students lined up around the corner to then pack into the Al McGuire Center to kick off the men’s and women’s basketball seasons.

Jamal Cain stole the show in the dunk contest as he dunked over 7-foot forward Jayce Johnson to win it. Megan Duffy made her first introduction to students as head coach.  The night was then ended with a concert by international artist T-Pain.

Like many traditions these last two years, COVID-19 has affected them one way or another. Madness is no exception.

The event returned last year for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic, but it was subdued. A mask mandate and COVID-19 restrictions left a plethora of seats open.

Let’s face it. Last year’s Madness sucked, it wasn’t fun and it lacked excitement. But that should not have served as the nail in the coffin.

Events like this are how an athletic department builds excitement around programs. And this year posed the opportunity for that since it’s as normal as it can get; there are no mask mandates or limitations on crowd size inside or out.

That was the case for Marquette until it wasn’t.

There are now less than two weeks until homecoming and there had been no mention of Madness until The Marquette Wire’s report. In a perfect world the announcement would have come  with “X,Y and Z is going to happen for MUBB *and* MUWBB instead.” But again, that wasn’t the case.

In its statement, Marquette Athletics did not even disclose a specific reason as to why it was canceled.

“We are focusing promotional efforts on our regular-season games at both Fiserv Forum and the Al McGuire Center and are excited about the level of student interest surrounding both of our programs,” it started.

Unless there are new promotions happening that we don’t know about yet, what do promotional efforts have to do with Madness?

The statement continued with, “We have already sold out the student section for our men’s games and are looking forward to continued strong support for our women’s team at the Al.”

Great. There is no questioning that Fiserv Forum and the Al have become one of the toughest venues for opponents to win in on the road these last few years. Both teams have combined for a 67-20 over the last three seasons at home. Amongst all Big East schools, Marquette ranks second and behind UConn for most wins during that span.

It finished, “Both programs will be hosting an open practice, and we can’t wait for Marquette fans to meet all of our tremendous student-athletes.”

If both programs were planning on an open practice, why not disclose that in an announcement of canceling Madness and not in a statement trying to clean up a PR mess? Head-scratching right?

There is a rage amongst fans and rightfully so. What used to be a highly anticipated fan tradition is now in its grave alongside the Bradley Center.

So I guess we will see each other for breakfast at the Al Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. for open practice to kick off the basketball season.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.