Early in March 1974, as the nation watched N.C. State's Wolfpack began its journey to a NCAA victory in Greensboro, college campuses across the country were striving to win a different title.
Former N&O writers David Zucchino and Jerry Allegood explained how the streaking phenomenon came to North Carolina.
The huge blue and white signs stretched from window to window atop the old brown dorm at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reads: "Home of the World Champion Streakers."
Inside, the nerve center of the American Streaker Society distributes posters announcing a campus streak and sells "I'm a Carolina Streaker" stickers at 25 cents apiece....
And if North Carolina is the nation's streak center -- Western Carolina staged the country's first major streak -- then UNC is rapidly becoming the center stage for taking it all off.
Roughly 208 UNC males purportedly set a short-lived national record last week in a nude romp over the school's quads and undergraduate library. Since then, so many colleges have laid claim to the record that it has largely become a mythical goal.
Carolina's streak was loosely organized by the American Streaker Society , located somewhere on the fourth floor of Mangum dorm. Nobody seems to know exactly who assembles all the bare bodies in once place, but posters announcing the streaks have been circulated across campus.
So naturally the question arises: Why streak?
"It's a challenge," said Randy Tripps, a Mangum dorm resident who ran in what is now known to Mangumites as the "200 Streak." "We wanted to set a record, and it just snowballed."
Senior Dean Shorkley, who missed the "200 Streak" but romped in one of several 10-to-15 man streaks, attributed the craze to "a bad case of spring fever." Shorkley also said most male students ran in the 200 Streak because 20 girls from near-by Joyner dorm had pranced naked under Mangum's windows the night before.
Richard Martin, another Mangum resident, said he thought students streak mainly because everybody does it.
At East Carolina Unniversity in Greenville where streaking took place Monday night, Dr. Charles G. Mitchell, professor and chairman of the ECU pshchology department, took a lenient view of the activities.
"The best response for authority is to laugh at it," said Mitchell.
Mitchell, who emphasized that he was not speaking for ECU, said the motivation for streaking is no different from eating goldfish, a fad of college students many years ago. He also pointed out that later generations staging panty raids sometimes were injured in the fracas but streaking has been "non-destructive."
Naked runners may disturb the sensibilities of some people, he said, but they aren't hurting anyone.
"If anybody gets shocked at the human body, that's their problem," he said.
Mitchell said there are apparently three motivations for streaking. It is primarily a fad, he said, students are influenced by the action of their peers, and it is a way of releasing tension and flaunting the establishment.
According to the professor, trouble resulted in the past when authorities attempted to interfere with student fads. However, he said, he could not predict whether streaking would die out or lead to other activities if allowed to continue.
Whatever the reason, streaking does occasionally have its painful moments. One UNC student reportedly broke his leg by streaking too fast Wednesday night, then hobbled naked Thursday night wearing only a cast and two crutches.
Glen Ferrell of UNC pulled a muscle during the "200 Streak" and had to hop back to the dorm in the nude. Call it stumble streaking.
Just watching streakers can be dangerous, too. Students said a fully clothed male student began running beside a naked coed during one streak, but got to staring so hard that he smacked into a tree.
Even the mass media is getting into the act, providing national exposure, if you will. Tripps said he appeared on the CBS Evening News last week wearing only a red hard hat, and also recognized himself on Durham and Raleigh stations' newscasts.
In a bold streak, Tripps said he and two other male students strolled down Franklin Street in the heart of Chapel Hill, stark naked.
"The straight people and girls looked away," he said."But all the drunks who saw us just cheered." -- The N&O 3/6/1974
The streak of 200 at UNC was reported to be a record, so of course, other campuses set out to break that record. Raleigh Times writer John Walston documented the efforts at N.C. State.
The naked Wolfpack tried, and tried again, and tried a third time.
But the N. C. State University students could not amass enough people ... to capture the national streaking title, claimed by 200 students at the Universith of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
But State may have set some records of its own anyway.
The State streakers didn't romp in the buff just once, but three times. And they racked up about four miles, maybe an all-time distance record...
There may have been 1,000 or 2,000 or 3,000 spectators last night. Nobody counted noses and nobody collected tickets...
They watched the streakers -- all but two of them male -- make three dashes. The longest started at Sullivan Dormitory in the western part of campus and proceeded to the Becton Dormitory area near Pullen Road before returning to Sullivan.
The first streak, at 10 p.m., drew only 30 participants, two of whom were women. But at 11 p.m., to the chants of "Go to hell, Carolina," "We're number one" and "Streak, streak, streak," 50 males stripped and ran through the central part of campus circling two women's dorms.
The final run looked more like the Boston Marathon as 80 guys ran the length of the NCSU campus and back amid cheering and startled stares.
"We just want to beat Carolina," said one of the organizers of the streak. "We're just having' fun." -- The Raleigh Times 3/1/74
Response to the student fad varied from one campus to another. Banks C. Talley Jr., dean of student affairs at N.C. State, stated there would be no official administration position, feeling the craze would soon run its course. At the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, campus security intervened. When one streaking co-ed was detained in a campus police car, the car was surrounded by students chanting "let her go!" and letting the air out of the car's tires.
NC State students try to set a streaking record on February 28, 1974.