A growing number of Ohio State students want to show support for their No. 1-ranked men’s basketball team by jumping in the Olentangy River on “Selection Sunday.”
On Selection Sunday, the NCAA reveals which teams will enter the NCAA Tournament and how they will be seeded in their respective regions.
Nate Kinkopf, a third-year in sport and leisure studies, and his friends created an event on Facebook to spark interest for what they hope will become a new school tradition. The event, “Selection Sunday Jump,” asks students to jump in the Olentangy River on March 13. On Monday night, the Facebook event had 547 attendees.
Junior guard William Buford summed up his thoughts about the Facebook group in one word: “Wow.”
Buford said he would “absolutely not” participate in the jump because “it’s too cold outside.” However, he said “if that’s what they want to do, I’ll probably be there, but I probably won’t jump in.”
Kinkopf said he likes the men’s basketball team more than the football team and thinks the hoopsters deserve some more respect.
Kinkopf’s goal is to create a student tradition similar to the annual “Mirror Lake Jump,” the plunge into the campus lake prior to when OSU plays Michigan in November.
“The Olentangy is fairly shallow near Lane Avenue, no more than 4 to 6 feet,” said Jeff Bohne, the environmental supervisor for the water quality section of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Ohio District.
Alex Hall, a fourth-year in mathematics, said he appreciates the thought behind the idea of supporting teams other than football, but would not take part in the jump because of the “dirtiness” of the Olentangy.
“Anytime you expose yourself to surface water, anywhere in the U.S., you are putting yourself at risk to be exposed to bacteria and chemicals,” Bohne said. “Personally, I’ve waded upstream and it is not a bad body of water.”
Kinkopf said he wouldn’t be opposed to switching the jump to Mirror Lake to get more of a student following.
“If we get enough people, the school will have to acknowledge it,” Kinkopf said.
Although Mirror Lake night is not a university-sanctioned event, the university and police overlook the laws that are broken when thousands of students enter the water.
“There’s a city ordinance against wading in rivers and streams. We would discourage jumping in Mirror Lake because of university resources,” said Richard Morman, deputy chief of OSU Police.
However, university police handle situations with circumstantial precautions.
“Police officers have a lot of discretion on situations. If the students really wanted to do this and went about it the right way, we would get involved to ensure it was a safe event, regardless of whether it is sanctioned or not,” Morman said.
Morman said the Mirror Lake tradition is only about 6 or 8 years old and starting a new tradition would be difficult, but possible.
The basketball team is thankful for the support.
“We appreciate the students’ desire to show their support and hope they continue to do so during our games at the Schottenstein Center,” said Dan Wallenberg, the associate athletics director for communications, in an e-mail.
Kinkopf admitted the planning for the jump is still in its infancy.
“I haven’t broadcasted it too much, but all my closer friends want to do it and I think the basketball team should get recognized more,” Kinkopf said. “I think the longer the team is No. 1, the more popular the idea will become.”