'Mud Bowl' is scheduled to continue despite roadblocks

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - 8:55pm

Update: Thursday, September 24:

Former members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity will now host the annual Mud Bowl as an independent organization, unaffiliated with SAE or any other other organization. Because the SAE house is owned by alumni, not by their national organization, event organizers say they are able to host the event without affiliation.

The former SAE chapter house at 1408 Washtenaw Ave. will still serve as the event’s venue.

Former SAE President Brett Mizzi, a Business senior, said the organization has developed a risk management plan, hired security and purchased insurance for the event.  

Mizzi said as University students, the event’s organizers have the right to assemble on private property.

Wednesday, September 23:
 
The Mud Bowl, a charity touch football game hosted annually by the University’s since-disbanded chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, will not be played this year.

In the last five years, the event has raised more than $100,000 for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The Interfraternity Council has said Mud Bowl cannot be held due to a standing policy that forbids fraternities from co-sponsoring events with chapters that have been disbanded. The University’s SAE chapter, which has hosted the football game for 81 years, lost recognition from its national chapter this year.

The policy forbids fraternities from co-sponsoring events with illegitimate organizations — such as an organization that is on social probation, suspended or expelled from the IFC — or they run the risk being disbanded themselves. Though IFC can’t prevent a private group from hosting an event, Greek life members — who have historically made up a large portion of the event’s participants — would face discipline if they were to participate this year.

IFC President Alex Krupiak said the policy was not created with the knowledge that it would result in the discontinuation of Mud Bowl. He said, at that time, SAE was in good standing with the IFC. SAE was expelled from the IFC in 2011 for hazing.

“It’s not something that was created in recent times,” Krupiak said, “It was definitely more than three years ago at minimum.”

Former SAE President Brett Mizzi, a Business senior, said Greek life is misapplying the policy, because anyone who forms a seven-person team is invited to participate.

“The fact that the University is trying to intervene on individual students’ decisions about whether to play a touch football game or not is absurd,” Mizzi said.

Public Policy junior Zachary Dubin, a former member of SAE, said halting the tradition of Mud Bowl was unfair to previous generations of University students.

“We really want to continue it, for the literally thousands of people who have played in it and have memories of it,” Dubin said.

Mary Beth Seiler, director of the Office of Greek life, said the discontinuation of Mud Bowl is only in response to the involvement of members of the former SAE, who fall under the category of “rogue.”

“Nobody is trying to discontinue the Mud Bowl in Greek Life,” Seiler said, “If another organization that was recognized were sponsoring the Mud Bowl, that would not be a problem.”

Rogue fraternities refer to a situation in which the chapter is either removed from the IFC or its national organization withdraws recognition. Seiler said SAE has been considered a rogue organization since it was expelled from the IFC, but lost the remaining elements of legitimacy with the loss of its national charter this summer.

Seiler added that the Office of Greek Life simply requests that fraternities uphold the policies they have passed. The Office of Greek Life is not against the event, but rather IFC involvement.

“It’s part of the bylaws, and that is why the students will be unable to participate, based upon our rules,” Krupiak said. “If it were hosted by an IFC fraternity, that fraternity should be allowed to play, but because it’s SAE, they’re not.”  

A Change.org petitition calling on the Office of Greek Life to allow SAE to reinstate the Mud Bowl currently has 1,421 signatures.